Insurance 101 – The Basics of Automobile Insurance

 

We all buy insurance for our cars, motorcycles, homes and even our own health. It is a wise investment to protect against unexpected losses, but how much coverage do you have? We routinely consult with potential clients who have no idea how much insurance coverage they have and what losses are covered. This article is the first in a series of articles focusing on various important topics on insurance. This information will serve to educate you, the consumer, to make smarter choices and ensure that you and your loved ones are protected.

There are several fundamental types of coverage included in automobile insurance policies. Most automobile policies include the following types of coverage:

 

  • Liability Coverage - This provides payments to others if you cause a crash. Liability coverage will compensate others for injuries caused by the crash. This can include passengers (including family members) in your vehicle if you are at fault for causing the crash that injures your own passengers, in addition to those occupying other vehicles. Most states have a minimum requirement for the amount of liability insurance coverage that drivers must have ($30,000 in Minnesota). However, it is a good idea to have liability insurance that is above your state's minimum liability coverage requirement, as it will provide extra protection in the event you are found at fault for a crash, as you are responsible for any claims that exceed your coverage's upper limit. You wouldn't want to run the risk of having to pay a large amount of money because your policy limit has been exceeded. Liability coverage will also cover the cost of repairing any property damaged by the accident (other than your vehicle).

 

  • Collision Coverage - If there is a crash, collision coverage will pay for the repairs to your car. If your car is totaled (where the cost to repair it exceeds the value of the vehicle) in an accident, collision coverage will pay the fair market value of your car. If your car is older, it may not be worth carrying collision coverage on it, depending on the value. On the other hand, if you have a more expensive car or one that is relatively new, collision insurance can help get you back to where you were before any damage to your car. Note: If your vehicle is financed or has a lien holder, this coverage may be required.

 

  • Comprehensive Coverage - This coverage provides payment for damage to your vehicle unrelated to a collision with another vehicle (i.e. weather damage) or if your vehicle is stolen. Comprehensive coverage is a good option if it fits in your budget, especially if you have a newer or more expensive vehicle. Note: If your vehicle is financed or has a lien holder, this coverage may be required.

 

  • Underinsured (UIM) and Uninsured (UM) Motorist Coverage - While state laws mandate that all drivers be insured, often times there is not adequate insurance available from an at-fault party to cover the damages caused by a crash or the at-fault driver does not have insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage provides payments to you (and those covered under your policy) if another driver hurts you in a crash and that driver does not have enough liability insurance to pay for the harm to you. Uninsured motorist coverage provides payments to you when a driver without insurance causes a crash in which you (or those covered under your policy) are hurt. Many people focus on liability coverage but in reality most people are cautious drivers and should be more concerned about being hurt by someone with inadequate or no liability insurance. Therefore, it is recommended that you carry UIM/UM limits equal to or greater than your liability coverage. Fortunately this coverage is relatively inexpensive for the protections it can afford to you and your loved ones.

 

  • No-Fault/Personal  Minnesota is fault car insurance coverage. The benefit of this coverage is that, regardless of how or why the accident happened, you as the named insured and your resident relatives are eligible to receive payment of your medical bills and reimbursement of your income loss. The typical No-Fault policy will provide at least $20,000 in medical expense benefits and $20,000 in payments for lost wages and/or replacement services, subject to a maximum of 85% of average weekly wage up to $250 a week for lost wages and $200 a week for replacement services. However, if you insure multiple vehicles with the same company you can elect to "stack" the policies to increase your medical and wage loss coverage. Thus, for example, if you have two vehicles and elected to stack the two policies, you would have $500 in weekly wage loss coverage with a total wage loss coverage of $40,000 and $40,000 in total medical expense coverage.
    • No-Fault coverage benefits are available regardless of health insurance coverage. If you have health insurance, the No-Fault medical expense benefits are primary and should be paid before you need to access your own health insurance.

 

We will explain these different types of automobile coverage in greater detail in future articles so please check back for additional information. Injuries of any sort, including but not limited to, injuries arising from automobile accidents, are very disruptive to your life and are a source of great medical and other types of expense. Should you find yourself in such an unfortunate set of circumstances, you will at least be thankful you took the time to understand and be certain you have suitable and adequate automobile coverage.

 

NOTE: The coverage afforded under each policy is dependent on the individual policy and you should always consult with the actual policy to understand what is and what is not covered. Please call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Maschka, Riedy & Ries (507-625-6600) for a free consultation and review of your current coverage before you have an accident to ensure you and your loved ones are adequately covered.

St. Peter man injured in three car crash on Highway 22 near Kasota

According to The Mankato Free Press on July 16th, James L. Burg, of St. Peter, was injured when his pickup was rear-ended by a northbound Ford driven by Sheldon Walters of Mapleton.  Mr. Burg's pickup was pushed into a semi stopped in front of him waiting to make a left hand turn.

 

Minnesota drivers have a responsibility to drive carefully.  Unfortunately, many drivers do not drive with the care required of such a potentially dangerous activity.  Many drivers think they can multi-task and still remain sufficiently focused; a misconception that often has tragic consequences.

 

It is important to seek immediate assistance from an attorney who specializes in motor vehicle crashes if you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a crash.  Time is often critical in documenting and preserving critical evidence.  Experienced personal injury attorneys can provide advice and guidance on how to pursue such claims and take immediate action to protect the rights of injured people and their families.  The personal injury lawyers  at Maschka, Riedy & Ries are adept at analyzing all potential sources of liability and recovery for their injured clients and represent clients throughout Minnesota.

 

Source: The Mankato Free Press, "Accident on Highway 22 North closes lanes" No author given, July 16, 2014

Insurance Appraisal Less Than Repairs Needed after Storm Damage

 

Summer in Minnesota is finally here and along with hot and humid days come Minnesota storms.  We represent clients in various capacities when having to deal with insurance companies, policy claims, adjustments, settlements, appraisal hearings, and litigation.

 

Recently, we successfully settled an insurance claim for a client who sustained damage to several buildings, barns and two homes on their farm after a June 2013 hail storm.  Our clients called for help after the insurance company denied the majority of their claim.  Huge discrepancies existed between what repairs the insurer and the insured thought were needed.  In preparing for the appraisal hearing, we hired our own experts to assess the property.  In the end, we were able to reach a successful resolution for our clients when the insurance company paid 10 times more than the original adjustment and we were able to recover our clients’ out of pocket expenses in addition to their insurance coverage.

 

Appraisal hearings are proceedings with your insurance company to resolve an insurance dispute relating to the value of a loss.  While informal in nature, these proceedings have major implications on insurance claim recoveries. Dealing with an insurance company can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially after suffering a loss of or damage to your home. 

 

If you find your home or other property damaged after a Minnesota storm, or if you find yourself stuck with an insurance adjustment that doesn’t cover your damages, give Maschka, Riedy & Ries a call to help take the burden off your shoulders and get the recovery your policies allow.

 

Jed Chronic Appointed to Minnesota DHS Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Committee

 

Maschka, Riedy & Ries partner, Jed Chronic, has been appointed by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services to the Traumatic Brain Injury State Advisory Committee.

 

This 30-member committee advises the Commissioner regarding policies, program and service needs of and potential models for service delivery for people with traumatic brain injury. Jed has a special interest in working with and advocating for people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Throughout his legal career Jed has represented many people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries ranging from mild to very severe and is honored to be selected to the Advisory Committee.

Sioux Falls boy, 13, sneaks out with grandparents' car, kills motorcyclist

 

According to The Star Tribune, a 13 year old Sioux Falls boy took his grandparents new Ford Fusion without their knowledge on June 15th. The boy was less than a mile from his
home when he struck Jason Rollings, 37, of Sioux Falls.

 

Mr. Rollings was riding his Harley-Davidson just a few blocks from his home when he was struck by the teen.
Mr. Rollings was taken to Sanford Hospital with an apparent leg injury that was noted to be serious but not life-threatening. Unfortunately a blood clot formed in his brain and he suffered a massive stroke. He was taken off life support when doctors determined that he would never walk or talk again. Mr. Rollings owned a graphic design company and leaves behind a wife, two sons, a stepson and two stepdaughters. The teen has been charged with several crimes.

 

South Dakota came in at the bottom of a recent survey of the best and worst states for safe teen driving. WalletHub, a personal finance social media network, pointed to the state's lax graduated licensing practices for its poor showing. A 14-year-old can drive legally by themselves in South Dakota with a restricted permit.

 

Source: Star Tribune,"Sioux Falls boy, 13, sneaks out with grandparents' car, kills motorcyclist" Paul Walsh, June 19, 2014.  Maschka, Riedy & Ries