Every car accident is a nerve-racking experience. This is particularly true when a wreck causes injuries. In addition to the initial shock and pain, victims often face exorbitant health-care bills, and some cannot return to work. These financial losses can be staggering, which is why drivers are required to carry auto insurance that meets the legal limits.
But what you don’t know about insurance can hurt you if and when you ever need to file a claim. Understanding the requirements of your policy, what coverage it provides, and what the insurance company must do if you file a claim can go a long way to protect your rights if you’ve been injured in an accident.
The Basics: Why do you need to pay for insurance?
Every state requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. For example, in Louisiana the liability insurance coverage of $15,000.00 per person and $30,000.00 per accident for bodily injury. Other states, like Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas require even more coverage at $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident.
Failing to carry the state minimum insurance coverage can expose you to costly tickets, fines, and even a suspension of your driver’s license. If you get into an accident, you will be personally liable for any injuries and damage you cause.
In some states like Louisiana, failing to carry insurance coverage will also mean you are barred from recovery for damages to your auto and any personal injuries under the “No Pay No Play” statute. This means there is no recovery by the owner or operator for the first fifteen thousand dollars of bodily injury and twenty-five thousand dollars of property damage arising out of a motor vehicle accident. If you sustain serious injuries you can still make a claim against the at-fault insurance company; however, the first fifteen thousand dollars of your bodily injury claim is deducted.
TIP: Providing Electronic Proof of Auto Insurance
All drivers are required to carry proof of auto insurance and law enforcement officers are authorized to inspect that proof during a traffic stop or while investigating a car accident. Until recently, officers only accepted a printed proof of insurance card or other insurance documentation. However in the past decade states across the US have passed laws allowing law enforcement officers to accept electronic proof of insurance. Today, in every state but New Mexico, electronic proof of insurance can be presented on a phone, tablet or other electronic device.
Next Steps: Understanding why an insurance claim is denied
Unfortunately, insurance companies are notorious for denying and undervaluing claims. Before you take action because your claim has been denied, you need to carefully review your policy and the letter denying your claim. This letter will explain the insurance company’s reasoning.
Car insurance claim denied on your own policy?
Insurance companies deny claims for many reasons. Some of the most common include:
You did not pay your premium on time
You may be tempted to skip an insurance premium if you’re facing tough financial times. However, insurance companies will cancel your coverage if they do not receive their premiums after a certain date.
You failed to notify the insurance company of pertinent changes
Certain, seemingly small, changes could nullify your coverage. Be sure to let your insurer know if a new family member — such as your teenage child — starts driving your car. Your plan may not cover him or her if he or she gets into a crash.
You should also inform your provider about a new car purchase because it may affect your policy. Insurance companies usually offer a grace period of a few weeks, but if you wait too long, then you may not be covered in the event of an accident.
You allowed someone who is not covered to drive your car
It may be generous of you to lend your car to friends and family. However, depending on the terms of your insurance plan, an insurer may refuse to pay a claim if someone who is not on your plan gets into an accident. If this happens to you, you should determine whether the driver’s policy will provide non owner car insurance for the accident.
- You let your driver’s license expire
- If your license expires and you forget to renew it, you will not be covered if you get into a wreck.
- You do not have coverage for this type of claim
A denial may mean you do not have the type of coverage you are seeking, such as rental car insurance for a temporary vehicle. This can also happen when you file a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage and later learn that the other driver does have insurance.
FACT CHECK: What is liability insurance versus comprehensive coverage?
Liability or collision coverage will only cover the damage you cause to someone else’s property. In contrast, comprehensive insurance will cover damage to your own vehicle.
Has the insurance company denied your accident claim?
If you’ve been injured in an accident but your claim has been denied, contact us for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced auto accident attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. We have office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today!