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Insuring your Health After an Accident

Some of the hardest conversations with clients come when they have been seriously injured in a car accident, and there’s not enough insurance to fully cover those injuries. The good news is you don’t have to rely on negligent people to protect you – you can protect yourself. Here is a rundown of the different types of insurance, and how they can be used if you’re injured in a car accident.

First, a word about policy limits. When we carry insurance, we pay for a certain amount of coverage. The insurance company calculates the amount we pay in insurance premiums based on the amount of coverage we purchase. $50,000 in insurance coverage is less expensive than $250,000 in coverage. This can be great for the bank account, but its sometimes not-so-great in the case of a serious car crash. The role of a personal injury attorney is to obtain monetary compensation for a person’s injuries. Most often, this means insurance money. While it is true that we could recover someone’s personal assets, most people don’t have an abundance of cash lying around, and as the saying goes, “You can’t get blood from a stone.” A case might be worth $100,000, but then we must ask: “Who’s going to pay that?” Almost 100% of the time, the answer to that question is the insurance company. However, the insurance company is only responsible for paying the value of a case up to the policy limit. So, in our $100,000 case, if the insurance policy limit is only $50,000, that is the most they will pay. Fortunately, there are three other types of insurance you can carry to cover yourself in case you’re injured by someone with low policy limits, or no insurance at all.

Medical Payments Coverage

Medical Payments Coverage, or “MedPay” is a baby insurance policy that attaches to your regular auto insurance policy. In Colorado, all insurance companies are required to provide at least $5,000 in MedPay coverage, unless you specifically waive it. This waiver must be in writing with your signature. MedPay is inexpensive so don’t waive this coverage if possible. While $5,000 is the minimum coverage, many insurance companies offer higher policies. If you can afford the extra coverage, this attorney recommends it. It can help cover health insurance deductibles and co-pays, or your medical providers can bill MedPay directly in most cases. While auto insurance generally does not pay bills as they are incurred, MedPay is the exception. It works just like a health insurance policy, covering medical expenses while the Bodily Injury claim with the at-fault insurance carrier is still pending.

MedPay is also great if your injuries are not serious. For people who have only minor injuries that can be treated with a few weeks of chiropractic care or physical therapy, MedPay is sometimes enough to pay for all that treatment. This can save you the hassle of lengthy negotiations with the at-fault carrier, keep your case out of litigation, and allow you to resolve your claims without the need of an attorney. However, it’s never a bad idea to take advantage of a free attorney consultation to discuss your options and best-case strategy.

Underinsured Motorist

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage “UM/UIM” kicks in under two possible scenarios: the at-fault driver did not have enough insurance (they are “underinsured”), or the at-fault driver did not have any insurance at all (they are “uninsured”). These two situations are lumped together into one UM/UIM policy. This is insurance you carry on your own auto policy. UM/UIM coverage kicks in where the at-fault driver’s policy leaves off. Let’s look back at the example above – your case is worth $100,000, but the at-fault driver only has BI insurance up to $50,000. In that instance, their insurance will pay the policy limit of $50,000, and then we would file a claim against your own UM/UIM policy to pay the remaining $50,000 that your case is worth. The minimum requirement in Colorado is for drivers to carry auto policies of $25,000. This is sometimes barely enough to cover an ambulance ride, hospital evaluation, and follow up care. Add in lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent impairment, and the $25,000 minimum is simply not enough to cover your losses. If you’ve taken the steps to protect yourself by purchasing an Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Policy, you don’t have to worry about whether the at-fault driver has enough coverage.

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance provides excess coverage for all your insurance policies (auto, home, personal liability). Often you can only purchase umbrella coverage if your liability policy is $250,000 or more. Policy limits for umbrella insurance is usually $1M but can be higher. The caveat to umbrella insurance is that for most insurance companies, it does not offer excess coverage for UIM unless you specifically request that (and pay a higher premium). So, if you are catastrophically injured and have medical bills well into 6-figures, umbrella coverage might not apply to you. It will apply, however, if you are the cause of a catastrophic accident and the other person has very high medical bills. Unless you have a high income or significant assets, umbrella insurance might be more insurance that you need. On the other hand, its often better to be over-insured than underinsured in the event of a serious injury.

If you have been injured in a car accident take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced personal injury. We can help you determine your best course of action based upon the facts of the accident, your injuries, and the insurance coverage available.

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Law Office of Anna L. Burr
2851 S. Parker Road
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Aurora, CO 80014

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