Does auto insurance cover medical bills?

The bare minimum auto insurance you are required to buy in most states will cover the medical expenses of the other party’s driver and passenger, if you are deemed to be at fault.

But, while this Basic Liability Insurance, as it is called, takes care of the other party’s medical expenses, you need a separate insurance policy, called Personal Injury Protection (PIP), to take care of the medical expenses of your passengers and you.

Of course, if the other party is held to be at fault, their insurers will pay your medical costs.

But, bearing in mind how medical expenses can quickly sky-rocket, it would be a very false economy for you not to have your own Personal Injury Protection as a given.

And, precisely because medical expenses can go through the roof, if the other party’s insurers are taking care of your medical expenses you can be sure they will keep an eagle eye on your medical adventures by employing an insurance adjuster.

So be aware that – despite coming from a different company to the insurers and so appearing to be independent – insurance adjusters are actually in the insurer’s corner and not yours.

For that reason, be very careful what you say.

And, if they suggest the you give them a recorded or written statement or want their own medical attendant to examine your injuries or that they be given access to your employment and medical records, politely refuse.

But, to avoid the charge that you are uncooperative, tell them you will authorize your physician to give them the medical notes specifically related on your injuries, once your treatment is finished.

You also need to be aware of the various factors the other party’s insurers will look at to calculate the level of compensation. That way, you’ll be ready to answer any questions put to you by the insurers or their adjuster.

The main thing an adjuster will want to evaluate is the depth and severity of your injuries and how that has changed your life since the accident.

It hardly needs saying that you obtain medical attention as soon as possible after you’ve been injured in an accident, because – although you might feel fine at the time – there could be an underlying problem that only a qualified medical attendant could spot.

As soon as you see your physician, you should immediately make them aware your injuries have arisen as a result of an automobile accident.

It’s also vital that you start and keep a journal as soon as possible after the accident where you document all problems and treatment.

It is also vital that you carefully follow any recommendations your physician makes in regard to your treatment to avoid the insurers claiming you have failed to mitigate – or minimize – their loss by making every effort to recover as soon as possible.

You should also keep a daily note in your medical journal of how your injuries are impacting on your normal day to day life.

Be sure to obtain a second opinion from another physician if you feel you are not making a sufficiently rapid recovery.

Once the other party’s insurers have gauged the extent and severity of your injuries, their long experience will tell them what level of compensation they should offer.

The insurers will want to know how much the injuries have changed your life since the accident, which is why you should be ahead of the curve by keeping a record of this on a daily basis right from the get go.

Because medical treatment can quickly spiral out of control, the type of treatment and its likely duration will be uppermost in the minds of your insurers and their insurance adjuster.

If the injuries are so severe you are unable to work, they will be particularly keen to know the earliest date you expect to return to full employment.

Another important part of their calculations will be the cost of expensive medications to treat your injuries.

Be in no doubt, with the cost of your medical compensation possibly running into tens of thousands of dollars, your insurers are going to seek every avenue to whittle down your claim.

Consequently, you must be prepared to hire an attorney experienced in auto insurance compensation to ensure you receive your rightful entitlement.

In the final analysis, the only truly fair way to set your compensation is with a trial in court where a jury decides.

But beware: because whatever sum they say is final.

Hopefully, your battle for compensation will not go that extreme and you will end up with a settlement that truly does compensate you for your pain and suffering.

Getting the right insurance cover for personal injury is, of course, vital, which is why it is best to employ a qualified auto insurance broker, like those you see on this page, who can draw on their long experience to best advise you when you come to set up your auto insurance.

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Does Auto Insurance Cover Towing?

If you find yourself stranded on the highway due to a mechanical breakdown or an accident, it will be a great relief to know your vehicle can be towed safely to a repair shop or your home, hassle-free.

So it’s a good idea to check in advance if towing to a destination of your choice is covered by your auto insurance policy – and whether that covers mechanical breakdown as well as accident situations.

Then, if the worse does happen, it’s one less thing to worry about.

It may be that your auto insurers will offer you a deal where they combine another company’s roadside assistance with your auto insurance for a lower subscription than you could get by going directly to the company offering roadside assistance.

That is the sort of valuable advice you get from an experienced insurance broker, like the ones you see on this page.

Alternatively, it would be worth it for your peace of mind to subscribe to a roadside assistance program like the American Automobile Association’s ‘Towing Coverage’.

Whatever way you arrange your roadside assistance it’s always a good idea to check in advance how any towing will be accomplished.

For example, some companies will dispatch their own tow truck to your vehicle no matter where it is and tow it to the nearest repair shop.

On the other hand, other companies leave you to pay for your own tow and reimburse you later. In this situation the companies usually have an upper limit on how much they will pay – usually around $50.

But, although you will have to pay any extra yourself, it does mean you have more flexibility in regard to where you are towed. So it means you can choose to be taken to your regular repair shop rather than some unknown mechanic.

If you do have towing coverage as part of your auto insurance it’s a good idea to check the scope of this, because it might only cover you for towing after an accident, as part of the repair of the vehicle, and not for mechanical breakdown, in which event you’ll have to arrange this separately.

Even if you don’t actually have specific coverage for towing on your auto insurance policy, your vehicle can still be towed to a repair shop if it’s involved in a collision or other type of covered accident.

That’s because towing is an essential precursor to getting the vehicle repaired.

Of course, you will need to have collision coverage which covers repairs if you are at fault in the accident. But if the other driver is at fault, their insurance will pay under their basic liability policy.

If your vehicle needs to be towed to the shop after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, then you will need to have comprehensive coverage to take care of that.

Generally, your insurers will reimburse you with whatever you’ve paid for being towed, provided you have the relevant policy – either collision or comprehensive cover. But the payment will count towards your deductible.

However, it’s often the case that a repair shop will collect the car from the scene of an accident without charging at the time and then simply add the towing charge into the general repair bill, so you’ll end up not paying.

If your auto insurance company does not pay for towing due to mechanical failure, it might well be to your advantage to join a specialist automobile club – like the AAA, for example, and pay a monthly subscription. That’s because motor clubs often offer a wider range of roadside assistance than just towing: for example, changing flat tires or bringing gas if you run out or starting your vehicle if the battery goes flat.

It could also be worth your while to check if your cell phone provider has a roadside assistance plan.

Some mobile phone companies do offer a roadside assistance program within your phone plan, whereby you can add the subscription to your regular monthly phone bill for a few extra dollars. That could be cheaper than going direct.

There is usually a limitation on the number of times you can take advantage of the service within a particular time frame.

However you arrange your roadside assistance, you should always keep the phone number for the service in your mobile phone so that you can dial it at any time.

It’s also a good idea to scan your membership card and keep a print out of it in your wallet in case you need to call from another phone.

Then you’re ready for whatever life throws at you.

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Does Auto Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

One of the most damaging natural events your vehicle can suffer, short of having a tree fall on it, is being pummeled by hailstones, because this will affect the entire bodywork of the car.

Prevention is always better than a cure, so – if a storm is predicted – try and get your vehicle protected, either safely in a garage or multi-story car park or under some other type of cover, such as a car port.

If your car is damaged by hailstones, the cost of repairs can be sky-high because the damage will be so extensive. Fortunately, if you have bought comprehensive cover, then you will probably be covered for hail damage, depending on the detail of your cover.

If your insurance is only the absolute minimum required by your state, then it will be liability only coverage, which is to take care of your liability to other drivers in the event you cause an automobile accident.

To be covered for hail and other damage to your car, such as flooding, you will need to buy comprehensive insurance.

But beware of leaving your purchase of this cover to the last minute, when a storm is already brewing, because insurers are wary of people who only buy cover when the chance they will need it is at its highest.

To combat this, they impose time limits on new comprehensive policies, so they don’t pay out for specific events which occur within a certain period of the policy’s inception.

You also need to bear in mind the deductibles which are set when you purchase car insurance on your vehicle. This is a sum of money you agree to pay towards any insurance claim before the insurance company pays out. So, for example, if the total payout is $10,000 and you have a $1,000 deductible, then the insurance pays you $9,000, leaving you to take care of the $1,000 balance.

When you buy the insurance is the time to decide the size of the deductible you’re comfortable with. The larger the deductible you elect to pay, the smaller your insurance premiums will be.

Hail damage can be so extensive and so costly to fix that there’s a good chance to your insurance company will declare your vehicle totaled.

That means the cost of fixing the damage can be greater than the insurer’s valuation of the vehicle, in which case your vehicle will be pronounced ‘totaled’, the vehicle would not be repaired and you will simply be give a certain sum in full and final settlement.

But all is not lost because you might be able to argue your case to get a little larger settlement and you might even get the insurers to agree to allow you keep the car, which might still be drivable, albeit unsightly.

This will take away the imperative to buy a replacement vehicle right away and also give you the means to travel round to view prospective replacements at your leisure so you can eventually strike a good deal.

Hail damage can be very frustrating to deal with, because you naturally feel you could not possibly avoid this act of nature and yet you have to honor your deductible.

Unfortunately, hail storms are one of the hazards of life, which is the reason why we buy insurance. But a good insurance broker, like the ones on this page, are well placed to advise you on the best insurance for your circumstances.

If you do file a claim, keep in mind that your vehicle is probably one of hundreds damaged by the hailstorm locally. So it will probably take longer than usual to process your insurance claim and repair your vehicle.

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Do auto insurance companies pay for pain and suffering?

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, and it’s very clear the other driver was at fault, then you would probably wonder, do auto insurance companies pay for pain and suffering?

Fortunately you should be entitled to receive compensation for your pain and suffering from virtually all insurers – but you might have to fight hard to get a fair settlement.

In the case of a car accident that causes even minor injuries, it’s common practice for the insurers to offer a relatively small sum – maybe $500 in full and final settlement.

They may also offer each of your passengers compensation.

While you should not accept such an opening offer without careful consideration and expert advice, it is an important signal that the insurance company acknowledge their responsibility to compensate you for your pain and suffering.

So the question then becomes: how much is a realistic sum?

Obviously, unlike physical damage to the vehicles, which can be fixed for a specific sum of money, bodily injuries are obviously a far more fluid proposition.

So, having established by their actions that you are entitled to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, the insurance company will naturally try to keep this payment as low as possible.

So they will probably employ the services of an insurance adjuster.

Always bear in mind that, despite coming from a different company to the insurers, they are working for the insurers – not you. So be very careful what you say and politely decline any suggestions to make a recorded or written statement.

Also politely decline any suggestion that their own medical staff be employed to check your injuries or they be allowed access to your employment and medical records.

You’ll probably be under the care of your own physician at this point, so tell them you will authorize your physician to release their medical notes on your injuries at the end of your treatment.

There are many factors to take into account when trying to arrive at a fair amount of compensation, so you need to be aware of all these, so you can be ready to answer any questions from your insurers or their adjuster.

Chief among these will be the severity of your injuries.

It’s vital you obtain immediate medical attention, right after being injured, because there might be hidden complications from your injury that only a trained physician could spot at this early stage.

So obtaining timely medical treatment for any injuries is paramount.

Make sure your physician is fully aware you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident and make sure you follow their prescribed treatment religiously.

Also keep a journal or other a thorough medical record, documenting your injuries, their relation to the accident, your subsequent treatment and cost of both treatment and medication plus the impact the injuries are having on your normal life compared with your life before the accident.

If your symptoms persist, then do not hesitate to obtain a second opinion from another physician.

Apart from the degree of severity of your injuries, other yardsticks that will be used to calculate the amount of compensation will be the amount of pain and discomfort typically associated with your type of injury. Your insurers will be well aware what this should be from their prior experience.

They will also want to establish how this injury has impacted on your life and how your life has changed since to the accident, when compared with your life prior to the accident.

Medical treatment can be eye-wateringly expensive, so the nature and scope of the medical treatment your injuries require will be a large element of the compensation calculations as will how quickly you can be expected to return to work and normal life.

The cost of expensive medications necessitated by the injury will also be part of the total.

With such large and contentious sums involved, be in no doubt the insurers are going to keep a lid on your payments, particularly as – if you suffer any long term effects – your compensation could run into tens of thousands of dollars.

With that in mind, do not flinch from the idea of hiring an attorney to fight your corner and even up the contest somewhat.

You will also be wise to employ an experienced insurance broker, like the ones you see here, because they can guide to the very best policies for your circumstances.

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When Not To File An Auto Insurance Claim

Suffering the drama of a car crash – even a very minor one – is a traumatic experience you’ll naturally want to put behind you as quickly as possible.

But you would be wise to take a moment to consider the position carefully before you make a knee-jerk reaction and immediately file a claim with your insurers.

Because, in the case of a minor fender-bender, such precipitous action could unwittingly cost you a king’s ransom further down the road.

Although it is the law that you share your insurance details with the other party in the case of an auto accident, there is no law that obliges you to tell your insurance company if you don’t intend to make a claim.

Remember also the purpose of auto insurance is to protect you against un-affordable costs that could cripple your financially – not to pay for every minor bump or scratch your vehicle sustains.

Of course, if there are injuries involved, then you must report the accident to your insurers. But, provided there are no injuries and only very minor damage to the vehicles, this is a time for a careful appraisal of the situation.

While a single minor claim is unlikely to affect your premium, you are only as good as your last car journey. So, if you were to have a minor accident followed by another one soon after, then that would certainly send your premiums through the roof, maybe by as much as 30-40%!  And that could be more that the cost of the repair.

On the other hand, a single claim might just leave your premiums unaltered.

Also take into account the amount you have set as your deductible, which you would have to pay anyway in the event of an insurance pay out.

Of course, if you’re the only party involved – for example, you backed into a wall, which was undamaged – then deciding what course to take is that much easier.

To a large extent, in the case of a two-car bump, it depends on the reaction of the other driver and, ironically, it will be far easier if you are the driver at fault. That’s because you can quickly take the heat out of the situation by instantly admitting your fault and immediately offering to pay for the repairs.

But, if the other driver is at fault, that’s clearly a trickier situation. But, if they are prepared to be reasonable about it and you really feel you can rely on them to take care of the repair costs without involving their insurers then it’s probably worth trusting them.

Remember, even when an accident is clearly not your fault, merely filing a claim can result in an increase in your premiums.

So, if everyone is calm and friendly, it might be possible to come to a private arrangement, whereby one or other of the parties – or both parties jointly – bear the costs without involving their insurers.

Always remember: the other driver will be just as keen as you to avoid inflating their insurance premiums. So focus on what is to their advantage by suggesting, as the damage is quite minor, they might like to consider preserving their insurance premium at its present level by dealing with the matter privately, just between the two of you.

If the other driver is agreeable to deal with the matter privately, then both parties must get a couple of repair estimates right away. Because, if the repair costs are far higher than you hoped, you’ll still have time to file an insurance claim.

If you are able to get an agreement with the other driver to avoid involving your insurers, it’s vital you obtain a written statement from them confirming none of their party has suffered any injury. This will avoid any injury claims surfacing later.

If there have been injuries, then you must certainly file a claim as medical expenses from a car accident can be notoriously open-ended.

In summary:

If you damage your car with no other vehicle involved and the damage costs $1,000 or less to fix, then you probably won’t want to involve your insurers.

If you are in a minor collision with another vehicle and it is clearly your fault, admitting this right away and paying for the damage to the other driver’s car could well be settled without involving either party’s insurers. Be sure to get a written statement confirming there were no injuries.

If a minor collision is the fault of the other driver and they readily admit it, you could persuade them not to involve either insurer to the benefit of both your insurance premiums. Be sure to get a written statement confirming there were no injuries.

If there are any injuries – regardless of the limited amount of vehicle damage – you must file a claim to protect you against possible sky-high medical costs.

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