Car insurance coverage can be confusing. If you’re involved in a car wreck, you may think your insurance company will take care of everything. That’s why you pay premiums, after all. All you need to do is tell them you were in an accident and they’ll pay your claim, right?
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple. Even your own insurance company may be more interested in reducing their own costs than compensating you for your wreck. And if you’re dealing with a car insurance company representing another motorist, watch out. Their priority is to protect their client and reduce their own liability, not to help you.
In our 21 years of serving injured Texans, we have seen this scenario play out with insurance companies time and again. This is why it’s important you know your rights and understand your Texas insurance coverage.
UNDERSTANDING TYPES OF INSURANCE COVERAGE
In too many cases, we’ve seen insurance companies take advantage of motorists who don’t know their rights. Here’s a rundown on the types of coverage you may have and what each one means:
Liability Coverage: Liability insurance pays for medical and funeral costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other losses sustained by people hurt in an accident you cause, up to the policy limit. Texas law requires motorists to carry 30/60/25 coverage – that is, up to $30,000 per injured person, up to $60,000 for injuries per wreck, and up to $25,000 for property damage.
Attorney Advice: Many motorists choose to purchase more. If your accident involves several vehicles or the injuries or damage is extensive, your policy may not be enough to cover it all. You may then have to pay out of pocket.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage: These two coverage types pay for damage to your vehicle. Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for losses due to non-collision events such as theft, vandalism, fire, or natural disaster. You are not required by law to have collision or comprehensive, but if you still owe money on your car, your lender may require this coverage.
Medical Payments Coverage: This insurance coverage type pays for medical and funeral bills resulting from an accident, up to the policy limit.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP): In addition to medical payments, this coverage includes 80 percent of lost income while recovering from injuries sustained in a wreck and the cost of hiring someone to care for an injured person. In Texas, your insurance company is required to offer you this coverage, and if you don’t want it, you must reject it in writing.
Attorney Advice: We recommend keeping your PIP coverage. People involved in accidents often experience injuries which cause medical bills and time off from work. PIP also covers expenses for passengers that were in your vehicle during the crash.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If you are involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver or an uninsured motorist, this insurance should pay for your expenses arising from the wreck. Likewise, if the driver who causes your accident does not have enough coverage to pay for your expenses, this coverage should pay for those additional costs up to the policy limit. As with PIP, insurance companies are required by law to offer you this coverage, and you must reject it in writing if you don’t want it.
DEALING WITH INSURANCE? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- You have every right to contact a lawyer. The insurance company may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer, but they’ll likely pick up the phone and call their attorney as soon as they’re done talking to you.
- People who hire an attorney recover 3-4 times more than people who don’t, statistics show. People who even meet with a lawyer regarding their claims recover significantly more than people who do not.
- You’re not required to answer the insurance company’s questions after a car wreck. You do need to notify your insurance company promptly after the crash, otherwise, they may deny your claim. Beyond that, though, you are not required to answer their questions.
- You don’t need to speak to another driver’s insurance company if they contact you. And you shouldn’t. Anything you say to them can be used to reduce or deny your claim. Instead, tell the insurance company to direct their questions to your attorney.
- You are allowed to negotiate for more money. We’ve spoken with too many people who accepted an insurance company’s offer, only to find out that the actual cost of the wreck was much higher. Unfortunately, once you’ve accepted a settlement, there’s very little we can do. That’s why it’s so important to speak with an experienced attorney before accepting an insurance company’s offer.
- The initial offer is usually a “low-ball” settlement. A car accident attorney will review your case in detail and negotiate for a fair settlement amount, an amount you deserve!