The original working title for this article, “So You Think You Have Full Coverage”, was borne out of the frustration of having clients who had been injured in an auto crash tell me that they had “full coverage” only to find out that the automobile insurance coverage they had was sorely lacking.
This may beg the question “Does your automobile insurance coverage matter when someone else is at-fault for the collision?” The short answer: Yes. It matters and is very important even when you are not at-fault for the accident.
Here’s one of the reasons why:
Personal Injury Protection (or P.I.P). Coverage – This is a big one.
Maryland Law requires that the insurance policy covering your vehicle carry a minimum of $2,500.00 P.I.P. coverage. It covers anyone who may be injured as a result of an accident while traveling in your vehicle: you, your relatives, friends, co-workers, children, and even hitchhikers (if you are so inclined). It provides coverage in the short-term for economic loss which results from injuries caused by the collision. Most often, it is used to pay for lost wages for time missed from work because of crash-related injuries and to pay for medical expenses to treat those injuries. It provides these benefits to you even if you are at-fault for the accident.
Where Some People Go Wrong:
Unfortunately, some people in an effort to save roughly $30 or $40 on their insurance premium, give up, or waive, this coverage. When they waive it, they are waiving it not only for themselves but also for any family member over the age of 16 living in the same household. You cannot waive the coverage for someone who does not live in your household.
Why You Should Have This Coverage:
The reasons are fairly obvious. (1) It will cover your lost wages while you are missing work because of your injuries. The benefits are typically paid within 30 days of the claim being submitted. You do not have to wait until the end of your case to collect money for your lost wages. (2) If you are able to work but incurring medical expenses, it will cover your medical expenses for treatment related to your injuries. This will make the hospital or doctor happy and avoid having the bills go to collection protecting your credit. Also, at the end of the case, the bills are already paid so they do not have to be paid a second time so that money for those bills goes to you.
What Should You Do (or Not Do):
(1) Do not waive this coverage. The savings are minimal.
(2) If you can afford it, consider raising your P.I.P. coverage from $2,500 to $5,000 or more. Medical expenses continue to rise. One hospital visit with a few diagnostic tests can exhaust the $2,500 minimum coverage quickly. Do not let this happen.
These are the basics of P.I.P. coverage. If you are involved injured in an auto crash, you should consult with an attorney immediately who can determine what coverages may be available to you.