Are you Adequately Covered to Head out on the Road?

Are you Adequately Covered to Head out on the Road?

We hope that you never end up in an automobile accident. However, automobile accidents happen every day, and should you become involved in one, you want to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage.

The type of automobile insurance coverage that most drivers are familiar with is liability coverage. In Wisconsin, you are required to carry automobile liability insurance of at least $25,000. Liability coverage means the amount available to cover your liability to another party should you be responsible for his or her injuries arising from the accident. While $25,000 is the minimum coverage you must legally carry, that amount is likely insufficient to protect you in the event the other driver and passengers sustain injuries. Larger liability coverage amounts are available through most insurers, including amounts up to $250,000 or even $500,000.

Beyond basic liability coverage, you should also consider acquiring umbrella coverage, which is relatively inexpensive coverage that applies in the event a claim exceeds your basic liability limits. Umbrella coverage is usually for $1 million or more and usually requires underlying limits of a minimum amount, such as $250,000.

If another driver is responsible (or at-fault) for injuring you in a vehicle accident, that driver might not have auto insurance (even though the law requires it) or might have insufficient insurance coverage. This is where two other relatively inexpensive coverages may help—underinsured motorist (UIM) and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. For example, if you sustain damages of $250,000 and the other driver has only $100,000 of liability coverage, if you have $250,000 of UIM coverage, your UIM coverage will pay the remaining $150,000. Thus, by having UIM and UM coverage, you will be protected in the event the other driver has insufficient coverage or no coverage.

Hopefully, you also carry good medical insurance. If you are injured in an auto accident, medical expenses can be substantial. What most people do not know is that their automobile policy includes medical coverage for injuries arising from an automobile accident. However in most cases, that coverage is minimal, such as $10,000. You may, and we recommend you consider, acquiring much higher coverage. Medical payments coverage in an automobile policy is usually relatively inexpensive.

Protect yourself and buy sufficient liability, medical, umbrella, underinsured, and uninsured insurance coverage. In the unfortunate event you are injured in an automobile accident, you will know that you have sufficient coverage available to compensate you for your injuries and damages.

Finally, while you might have sufficient coverage, wrestling with an insurance company to pay your claim is not a simple task. Attorneys who handle car accident cases all the time know what works and can help you get the top dollar from your insurance company. In the event you are in an auto accident, don’t wait and contact your personal injury attorney right away.


Life Events Require a Fresh Look at Insurance Coverages

Life Events Require a Fresh Look at Insurance Coverages

I recently had the incredibly good fortune of getting married to my wonderful wife, Kat.  In addition to the name, address, and health insurance changes that came with this life event, I volunteered to get our auto and homeowners insurance policies and coverages melded and up to date.  Since I focus my practice on representing injury victims, as we were updating our policies, I kept an eye out for a number of insurance policy issues that I recently came across in my practice.

Arbitration for Underinsured (UIM) and Uninsured (UM) Motorist Coverage

One of the greatest, if not the greatest, protection that an injury victim has is his or her Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.  If the negligent party’s insurer is unwilling to provide fair and reasonable compensation for the injuries and damage sustained, you can seek recourse from a jury of your peers.  This is also true if the negligent driver does not have sufficient, or any, insurance and you need to make an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company.

However, the Seventh Amendment protection is disappearing in some automobile insurance policies that include provisions that require arbitration for uninsured and underinsured motorist claims.  As a result, if the injured person and his or her insurance company cannot agree as to whether UIM/UM coverage applies or the amount of damages, rather than a jury of your peers deciding the issues, a group of arbitrators (usually three) decides the issues.

It is easy to pass this issue off as an “only lawyers read the insurance policy” type of issue.  However, depending on the issues and type of injuries, having your claim limited to a three-person arbitration body with limited discovery, limited evidence and limited appellate review could have a huge influence on your injury claim.  Unfortunately, by the time a lawyer reads your insurance policy, it is often after the injuries have occurred, and it is too late for the injured party to make an informed choice.

Breed Restrictions and Limits for Dog Bites

In Wisconsin, there is statutory liability for an owner, harborer and keeper of a dog when a dog bite occurs.  Normally, insurance coverage for this type of incident falls under a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.  Just as all UIM/UM policy provisions are not written the same, not all policy provisions involving dog bite liability are the same.  There are a number of insurance policies in Wisconsin that limit, or completely exclude, coverage for certain dog breeds.

Some insurance policies exclude coverage for bodily injury or property damage caused by what the policy defines as prohibited or excluded breeds of dogs, including mixed breeds.  If not excluded, some policies limit the amount of insurance to an amount that is much lower (e.g. $25,000 or $10,000) than the policy’s normal liability limit.  As such, if you or your family owns a dog, make sure to check your policy for any dog breed restrictions or limitations of coverage.  Fortunately, my new married life includes only a teacup Chihuahua, which I have yet to see listed as an excluded breed.


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