You may do everything right on the road and still get in a collision. A drunk, distracted or negligent driver may be around every turn. Those impacted in a car crash rely on automotive insurance to cover their property damages and medical bills, but sadly, not all coverage is created equal. You need an insurance coverage policy to protect yourself from an underinsured motorist — but how is that different from your current insurance?
As a helpful tool for motorists, the car crash lawyers at Casey, Devoti & Brockland have outlined the two primary types of insurance coverage you may need and what makes them different.
Missouri Liability Coverage
Liability coverage is a component of auto insurance that protects you when you are in a collision that is your fault. Essentially, liability coverage protects you financially — it establishes that your insurer will hire a car crash lawyer to defend you, cover the cost of your defense and pay the injured party’s damages. Your insurer will pay for damages for bodily harm and property damages up to your coverage amount.
Most states, including Missouri, require liability coverage by law. Missouri motorists may only have the state minimum of $25,000 of liability coverage. While this is all you are legally required to have, the state minimum may easily leave the at-fault driver as an underinsured motorist. The costs of property damage and medical bills plus harms to your body, including pain and suffering, typically outweigh minimum coverage policies. To state it plainly, if you caused more damage than your insurance policy covers, you may be expected to pay the remainder out of pocket.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Underinsured motorist coverage is a specific type of automobile coverage — it provides security if you are involved in a crash with an at-fault driver who has liability coverage that is not enough to fully cover the harms you have suffered. In other words, the other driver involved in the collision is “underinsured.” Your underinsured motorist coverage supplements their coverage so you may receive full compensation for the damages. However, the stipulation is that you must have this type of coverage at the time of the collision. Many people do not have this type of insurance and once they are involved in a crash, they do not receive much financial help.
This type of coverage is not required in Missouri, but it may be a saving grace for many involved in a collision. Some insurers sell it while others do not offer it up front — we recommend you ask for it soon. As car crash lawyers, we have seen an increase in the number of underinsured motorist cases since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally speaking, insurance is often one of the first things people cut back on when they experience economic hardship — it is an easy way to save a couple hundred dollars. However, it ultimately hurts when you are in a crash where someone else caused it.
Take the Next Step in Justice
The injuries that occur in a crash may impede your ability to work and perform basic tasks, making it even harder to find the money to meet co-pays, deductibles and medical account balances. Add the rising cost of medical care on top of it, and a car crash may be financially debilitating. Without underinsured motorist coverage at the time of the collision, there may be little a car crash lawyer can legally do for you.
However, we still recommend you consult with a lawyer immediately after a crash. A lawyer directs you on the steps you must take to protect yourself in a given set of circumstances. For example, counsel may work with your health insurer to ensure they appropriately handle claims, negotiate any liens or account balances due with healthcare providers or manage the health insurer attempting to recover benefits paid on your behalf.
As car crash lawyers, we believe that car crashes demand accountability. However, every case is different — contact Casey, Devoti & Brockland to explore the next steps in your underinsured motorist case.