Insurance agents will tell you about the insurance policies they offer. They will tell you the easiest way to pay your bill. They will also tell you what minimum coverage is required in your state. But they might not tell you how important it is to opt into uninsured or underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage and other optional policies.
The truth is, the required coverage in Alabama may not help you if you are in an accident caused by someone else. It only protects you from losing assets and helps victims recover compensation in a crash you cause. As car accident lawyers, we know how important optional coverage can be after a collision, especially if the at-fault driver does not have the required liability policy.
Problem: Many Drivers Carry Only Bare-Bones Liability Coverage
In Alabama, drivers must carry a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in liability coverage, which pays out when the insured driver is at fault. This means if a distracted driver rear-ends you, that driver’s $25,000 in liability coverage might take care of your injuries and property damage – but it’s hardly enough coverage if you face broken bones, an overnight hospital stay, or permanent injuries.
Even more of a problem is if the driver has no insurance. You may not think this is very likely to happen, but the Insurance Information Institute reveals that as of 2019, nearly one in every five drivers in Alabama was uninsured. With such a high percentage of uninsured motorists on the roads, your odds of being in an accident with one of them are actually quite high. So how do you protect yourself?
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Solution: UM/UIM Is the Most Important Coverage of Your Policy
Precisely because minimum liability coverage is so, well, minimal, Alabama requires all insurance policies to include an optional $25,000 in UM/UIM coverage. It came with your required auto insurance policy unless you chose to opt out. Some people opt out to save money, but it is a gamble that you will not get in a hit-and-run crash or get hurt by an uninsured driver.
If you are in an accident in which the at-fault driver had no liability insurance (uninsured) or did not have enough liability insurance to cover your damages (underinsured), your UM/UIM coverage kicks in. Unfortunately, some insurance agents fail to mention how important it is to keep this affordable extra coverage, and many accident victims don’t realize they don’t have it until it’s too late.
Other Optional Alabama Insurance Policies Are Also Available
While UM/UIM coverage is important for protecting your financial health and getting the medical care you need under certain circumstances, you should also consider whether other types of optional coverage are a good fit for you. To this point, we have only discussed the coverage that helps you if another driver causes your wreck. But what if you make a mistake behind the wheel and cause an accident?
To protect yourself in this situation, you may want to think about adding:
This pays for the vehicle repairs or replacement of a totaled car after a crash, regardless of fault. If another driver causes your accident, this policy may allow you to repair your car. The insurance company may then pursue recovery of the money it spent from the at-fault driver’s insurance through a process known as subrogation.
A comprehensive policy covers damage to your vehicle that does not occur due to a collision. This is the coverage that will pay if someone steals the car, a tree falls on it, or it is damaged in a flood or tornado.
Medical Payments (MedPay) Coverage
Personal injury protection policies are not available in most states with a tort-based car insurance system, including Alabama. In addition, health insurance companies will usually avoid paying for treatment of crash injuries unless there is no other option. This can be extremely frustrating to car accident victims.
This is where MedPay coverage comes in. It ensures your medical bills are paid, up to policy limits, following a vehicle collision.
If Your Coverage Comes Up Short, Don’t Give Up – Get an Attorney!
In the case of a severe car accident, there might still be a shortage of coverage, even after liability and UM/UIM limits are met. An accident victim could be left to pay these bills out of pocket regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This is your cue to get a lawyer!
Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a better payout or sue the at-fault driver for compensation above the policy limits. Most Alabama personal injury lawyers provide free initial consultations and represent their clients based on contingency fees. This allows you to learn about your options and seek justice in your collision case without paying anything upfront.
There is only a limited time, usually up to two years, to sue in these cases (Ala. Code § 6-2-38). You should act quickly to get started. You can contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after learning your injuries are stable or as soon as you can after a crash.
Speak to a Car Accident Attorney from Our Team Today for Free
The Morris Bart law firm has the knowledge and experience to negotiate with insurance adjusters and medical representatives on your behalf to mitigate some of these out-of-pocket costs. We’ll fight for your right to get the compensation you need to get back on your feet after a traumatic car accident.
We have several offices in Alabama — including Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery — and serve victims in all areas of the state. Reach out today to learn more.
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