Most people who are in the process of buying Texas auto insurance may be unaware of what they are purchasing. However, understanding your policy and ensuring you are properly covered in the event of an accident is extremely important. If you are in an accident and lack certain types of coverage, it will be too late to recover funds needed for medical bills, lost income or repairs. Here are some things you need to know, both when choosing your policy and when dealing with your provider after an accident.
- Don’t assume your insurance agent is your friend: Many people assume their insurance agent is a friend they can count on for support after being involved in an accident. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your insurance agent’s purpose is to save his or her company money by making sure you are not fairly compensated.
- Make sure you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical expenses, some lost income and funeral services caused by car accidents. While insurance companies are required to offer this service, they may entice consumers with lower monthly payments and policies that do not use PIP. PIP policies are expensive to cover, and insurance companies are primarily concerned with saving money.
- Understand the difference between commercial and personal insurance: Some people use their vehicles for personal and business purposes, such as delivering pizzas or outside sales. A person with a personal insurance policy who uses his or her vehicle for business purposes may not be covered if they are involved in an accident while working.
- Ensure you have Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM/UIM): UM/UIM coverage pays for medical bills, injuries and other expenses after being hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Motorists who lack UM/UIM coverage on their policies can only receive the maximum amount covered by the at-fault driver’s policy, which is almost never enough to cover medical and other expenses.
- Understand who is covered on your policy: If you have multiple family members who use the same car, it is essential to ensure they are permissive drivers. Non-permissive drivers will not receive coverage under policies in the event of an accident, meaning family members could be on the hook for huge medical bills.
- Never buy the minimum required amount of insurance: Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because you have insurance, you will be completely covered after an accident. Minimum liability limits are $30,000 per person in Texas, nowhere near enough to cover serious injuries caused by an accident.
- You can pick your own repair shop: As a policyholder, you have the right to choose what repair shop or auto body shop you want to use after an accident. Also, your insurance company cannot specify the type of repair, part or brand.
- Your insurance company cannot receive fees or kickbacks from repair shops: Your insurance company cannot collect kickbacks by recommending or ordering you to use specific repair shops. In addition, your insurance company cannot require you to travel an unreasonable distance to receive repairs.
- You have the right to an itemized bill: Your insurance company cannot prevent repair shops from giving you an itemized bill with the description, manufacturer, or source of the parts used, as well as the amounts billed to the insurance company for the parts and labor.
- Carefully research your policy: Pay close attention, because this is perhaps the biggest mistake people can make when buying car insurance. Many people sign the dotted line on their insurance policies without understanding how they are covered. Failing to understand your policy can make it much more difficult to receive compensation after an accident.
The personal injury attorneys at Mike Love & Associates can offer free consultations on insurance policies before accidents occur. We can help make sure you have the types of coverage necessary to protect your family if an accident occurs.