Which Car Insurance Policy Should Pay After a Car Accident?
The answer could be “all of them”. If you are injured in a Colorado car accident, you should expect the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to pay for repairs to your vehicle, as well as compensation for your medical treatment, any lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. But there are other policies and coverages that could become important in your case.
Your Own Insurance or Theirs?
When you report the accident to your own auto insurance company, you may be asked whether you want to make a claim. Your insurance provider is essentially asking you whether you want to work directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance to get your car repaired, or whether you would like two use your own insurance for that. Sometimes making a claim through your own insurance can seem like the more convenient option. However, some insurance companies may increase your rates just for filing a claim, and you may be required to pay a deductible that you wouldn’t have to pay if you were working directly with the at-fault insurance. You may very well be able to get that deductible back later from the at-fault insurance company, but it pays to ask lots of questions before deciding whether to have your own insurance company get too involved. My experience is that most choose to work directly with the at-fault insurance company to get their vehicle repaired, which avoids any question of increased rates or the need to pay a deductible up front.
Medical payments coverage is commonly referred to as medpay. Colorado requires that every auto policy sold here include at least $5,000 in medpay coverage unless it is rejected in writing by the policyholder. If you have been injured in a car accident, medpay coverage may be available to help you pay for medical treatment, regardless of who is at fault, and it tends to pay at the beginning of your case, unlike liability coverage which will pay all at once at the end. Medpay may be available through your own auto insurance, even if you are seeking compensation from an at-fault insurance policy, and it can help pay for ambulance service, emergency medical treatment, and follow up medical care.
Liability coverage refers to the at-fault driver’s policy. Colorado requires liability coverage for bodily injury of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident. Unfortunately, these minimum coverages mean many Colorado drivers are underinsured. $25,000 simply does not cover much when injuries are serious and require medical treatment. One trip to the emergency room can easily cost more than $15,000. Sometimes ER billing that includes extensive imaging and involves consultations with multiple physicians can be $25,000 or more for a single visit. Follow up care with a primary care doctor, physical therapy or referrals to specialists can easily go well over $25,000 and that’s without any consideration of compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, or future care. So what do you do if the person who caused your injury doesn’t have enough insurance or assets to compensate you?
Underinsured Motorist – Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When the at-fault party cannot compensate you enough to cover your losses, you should consider pursuing an additional claim with your own insurance carrier. Colorado law requires that every auto insurance policy issued in our state include uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage unless the policyholder rejects it in writing. If you are trying to determine whether you have UM/UIM coverage, you should not simply accept your insurance agent’s word for it. Colorado law requires that insurers be able to verify UM/UIM coverage was rejected in writing, and if the insurer cannot show that, they may be required to provide the coverage.
It is possible for insurance coverage to apply to relatives who live in the same home. So if you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, and you live with someone who has UM/UIM coverage, it may cover you too, even if you are not named in the policy.
Find it Confusing? Get Ready!
Auto insurance coverage can get complicated. More importantly, there may be more insurance coverage available that just the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. If you have been injured in a car accident in Colorado, call Denver car accident lawyer Vern Ready for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can discuss your specific case and how best to approach insurance companies on all sides, including health insurance and medical treatment options. If you decide you want to work together, there are no up-front attorney fees. I get paid out of money I recover for you, so you pay me nothing to get started. So call and get your questions answered!