Understanding Insurance Claims

In the United States, an average of 215 million people carry auto insurance each year. With an average premium of $140 per month, this makes the auto insurance industry alone a $311 billion dollar industry. The average premium in Utah is $1306.00 per year or $108 per month. Despite paying these premiums each month and year, it’s surprising how little people truly understand what it is they are paying for.

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Understanding the Basics of Coverage

With respect to auto insurance, there are four types of “auto claims”- collision, comprehensive, property damage, and bodily injury. There is also a benefit of rental and tow coverage, that is only available with certain types of coverage. 

Keep in mind that having full coverage may not mean what you think it means. And its important to understand the type of claim and coverage for that claim. Full coverage can mean a variety of different things depending on the policy, and even the incident.

Liability/Property Damage:

This coverage pays for repairs or damage you cause to another person’s vehicle after a collision, minor or major. This protects you from claims brought by another person but does nothing to help you if you have your own claim or damage that needs to be repaired.

Rental or Tow Coverage:

One of the top frustrations for clients after an accident is when their vehicle has to be repaired, and they are without their car for a period of time. Many people assume their insurance has rental car coverage- this is a mistake! You cannot assume this, because if you have liability or collision coverage only, you likely don’t have rental car coverage. Rental coverage is usually associated with comprehensive coverage, but you should verify with your insurance agent that you in fact have rental car coverage. Otherwise, Uber and Lyft may become your new favorite app, and that can get expensive pretty quickly.

Collision:

Provides payments for your own vehicle repairs or replacement when it is damaged due to contact with another vehicle or object due to your own actions. Think, of hitting the curb, running into a light pole in a parking lot, etc. This would not include damage due to fire, water, trees falling on your car, hitting a deer (or other animal), theft, or vandalism.

Bodily Injury:

If you cause a car crash, and the other person involved is injured, your automobile insurance policy will pay the amount of your liability (or the amount you are responsible for) to the injured person. This amount can include hospital, medical, and rehabilitation, as well as compensation for pain and suffering associated with their injury, and lost earnings if the injuries prevented them from working.

Typically, your auto insurance will only pay for the medical expenses or losses experienced by the injured person up to your insurance policy limits. This is the amount of coverage that you elect when you sign up for your policy. In Utah, the minimum policy permitted by law is $25,000.000 per person injured, or $65,000.00 total per crash, no matter how many people are in the vehicle. 

Comprehensive:

This type of coverage fills in where your collision coverage doesn’t. For those times when you do hit a deer, or someone breaks into your car, your comprehensive coverage is what will typically cover these types of issues. The extent of your coverage will vary from policy to policy, so it is important to read the fine print to ensure your situation is covered.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP):

In Utah, auto insurance policies are mandated to have this type of “no-fault” coverage available on every policy. The minimum amount of PIP coverage required is $3,000.00, although many insurance companies allow you to elect a higher PIP coverage amount. PIP policies will pay your medical expenses directly to providers up to your coverage limit. If another person is at fault for the accident, your auto insurance will seek reimbursement of this $3,000.00 expended on your behalf from the responsible party’s insurance.

What is an Insurance Claim?

When you have been injured in a collision with a car that is covered by an insurance policy, (yours, theirs, or both), it is important to immediately contact your insurance agent to set up a claim. You can do this yourself, or with the assistance of a Utah Personal Injury Attorney, like those at Johnson Livingston. 

By doing this, you’re notifying the insurance company that an event occurred that may require the insurance company to provide a benefit available under the insurance policy. Failure to notify the insurance company could result in a denial of coverage, as every insurance policy requires the insured party to cooperate with the insurance claim (either individually or through an attorney), to protect the interests identified within the policy. 

When you notify the insurance company of the crash, they will provide you with a “claim number”- this is just a simple identifying code to make sure they can track your claim within their system. 

When another person is involved in the accident, that person is also required to set up a claim with their insurance company. Doing so will also result in a separate claim number for that insurance company’s system. If the other party doesn’t set up a claim with their insurance, you can. That is why the exchange of insurance information at the scene of an accident is so important. It allows you to hold the other party accountable.

Once your claim is set up, you can proceed with having your vehicle repaired and seeking treatment for any injuries sustained in the collision. If you have personal property that was damaged in your vehicle as a result of the collision (like car seats), the Personal Injury Attorneys at Johnson Livingston can help with getting you reimbursed for those expenses. 

As a reminder, when you make a claim against either other driver’s insurance, that doesn’t mean you are suing the other driver as a person. You are simply seeking to use a benefit of the insurance policy that the other driver specifically paid for by paying their monthly premium- that is using their insurance to cover your damages- instead of them being forced to pay for your damages out of pocket. 

Even when you are not at fault for a collision, your own insurance coverage and policy limits can be important as well. If the other party in the incident does not have enough coverage this goes into your own policy in Underinsured Motorist Coverage. There are also other coverages that your own policy can influence in your claim.

If you have questions about your insurance, and whether your coverage is sufficient, contact your insurance agent. Usually, the difference between paying for the minimum amount of coverage required by law, and the best coverage available is only a few dollars per month. 

The purpose of insurance is to make sure you are covered in the case of a claim, so going for the cheapest, and denying coverage may not always be in your best interest in the long run. Once an incident happens, you cannot increase or improve your coverage, this must be in place before a crash or incident ever happens.

 

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Johnson | Livingston, LLC

Personal Injury & Trial Attorneys

195 South Orem Blvd, Suite 1

Orem, UT 84058

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Text: (801) 683-5359

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Disclaimer: This website and its contents are intended for informational purposes only and do not intend to provide or replace medical or legal advice.