Lesson 31: Are You Fully Covered?

From the Land Mines in Accident Cases section of How You Can Avoid Legal Land Mines by Joseph S. Lyles (2003).

The law of most states requires that an automobile operated on the public highways have liability insurance coverage of minimum limits. For example, as of 2003, the law of South Carolina requires minimum limits of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for damages due to personal injury arising out of a wreck involving that covered auto.

If your insurance agent tells you that you are “fully covered,” you need to make sure you know what that means. If by “fully covered” she means only minimum limits, that is not enough to protect you adequately against claims that could arise from an auto accident you are involved in, particularly one that results in serious injuries to anyone.

Also, it is a good idea to obtain as much underinsurance coverage as you can afford. This type of coverage pays you if your personal injury damages exceed the amount of coverage available from the at-fault driver’s liability policy. Because so little coverage is required, you are very likely to need underinsurance coverage if you get even moderately hurt in an automobile collision. This is very valuable coverage because it pays you, not some stranger.

Underinsurance is an optional coverage in many states, so you may have to request it. It will also require the payment of an additional premium, but it is well worth it.

The Lesson: Make sure you are adequately covered by automobile insurance and investigate what your agent means by “full coverage.” Carry as much underinsurance coverage as you can afford.