Car accidents happen. In fact, they happen so frequently that they are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015 alone, there were more than 6,290,000 police-reported crashes in the United States and that in 2016, there were more than 37,400 car crash-related fatalities.
Because car accidents are so common, carrying car insurance is a must (not to mention the fact that auto insurance is required in the State of Washington). However, more than just carrying insurance, it is important that you understand your policy, especially if you’ve been in a car accident. Here are some tips for making sense of your auto insurance contract.
Know the Basics – What’s Included in a Standard Auto Insurance Policy
Regardless of who you are and what you’ve purchased in terms of coverage, if you have an auto insurance policy in Washington, it will include, at the very least, the following:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance for one person in one accident;
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability insurance for two people in one accident; and
- $10,000 in property damage liability insurance per accident.
The above are the minimum coverage requirements in the state. It is also likely that you carry uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, uninsured motorist property damage coverage, and basic personal injury protection coverage. In fact, unless you have rejected these coverage types, it is very likely that they are part of your policy.
In case you are unclear on what each of these insurance types are, here’s a brief overview:
- Bodily injury liability insurance pays for injuries that you cause to another party in a crash;
- Property damage liability insurance pays for property damage that you cause to another party in a crash;
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays for injuries or property damage that you sustain in a crash when the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance to pay your claim; and
- Personal injury protection coverage, or PIP coverage, pays for your medical expenses regardless of fault after a crash.
Other types of coverage that may be part of your policy include collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision pays for damages to your vehicle after a crash, even if you were at fault, and comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your vehicle caused by an act of nature, vandalism, etc.
Call Your Insurance Agent
If you are involved in a crash, or just want to be more informed about what type of coverage you’re carrying, call your insurance agent and ask them to go over your policy with you. Your insurance agent can explain things such as the different types of coverage that comprise your policy, your coverage limits (i.e., how much your insurance company will pay), your deductible, and how things like an accident will affect your premiums. Your insurance agent should also explain when they will pay for damages you suffer if you were at fault for an accident, what happens when fault cannot be determined, and what your insurance company will do if the at-fault party doesn’t carry adequate auto insurance.
Meet with an Attorney
Insurance policies may include very technical and confusing language. A local attorney will be helpful if you have been in an auto collision and need to prove fault, file a claim, negotiate a settlement, or litigate the claim. A local attorney should explain the details of your policy and hold your insurance company responsible per your policy provisions.
Call a Seattle Car Accident Attorney Today Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
Insurance policies vary from person to person. Your policy provisions may have a huge effect on what you can recover after a crash. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Washington and are unsure of what you are entitled to with regard to your insurance benefits, or have questions regarding initiating a claim, give our lawyers at The Walthew Law Firm a call. We will be happy to answer your questions and represent you in your legal action, settlement negotiation or insurance dispute.
You can reach our experienced car accident lawyers by phone or online today. Consultations are free of charge.