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Understanding Auto Insurance Coverage

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If you are having trouble settling with the insurance company after a car accident, seek legal help from a Chicago car accident lawyer.

Understanding Auto Insurance CoverageAll car insurance companies are not the same and they do not always provide the same type of coverage – the difference goes beyond the price tag. There are different types of insurance companies, each offering different types of coverage. Consider a variety of factors when shopping for auto insurance.

Minimum Requirements

In the state of Illinois, there are a number of things to keep in mind before renewing your current policy or buying a new one. The policy you purchase must meet the minimum requirements. Drivers must have a minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000, $50,000 for personal injury coverage per accident, and $20,000 for property damage. If you are found guilty of causing an accident, any damages awarded above these limits must be covered by you.

These limits are commonly known as liability limits because they cover costs related to an accident that you are liable for. It is also advisable to have underinsured or uninsured coverage on your policy. This type of coverage allows a car accident victim to file a claim against their own policy when they are involved in a hit and run accident or an accident caused by someone who does not have coverage.

Underinsured Coverage

Underinsured coverage comes in handy when you are involved in a car accident caused by a underinsured driver – a driver who does not have adequate coverage to cover all costs related to the accident. This coverage proves extremely beneficial in the event of a severe crash, resulting in extensive property damage, serious bodily injuries, and lost wages due to time missed from work.

Collision Coverage

Drivers also have the option to purchase collision coverage. With collision coverage, the policy pays for repairs or replacement of your car in the event of a crash. If you do not have collision coverage, and you get involved in a crash, you may have to pay for the damage out-of-pocket. Comprehensive insurance is another type of coverage that is optional in Illinois, and provides coverage if you car is stolen, vandalized, or strikes an animal.

Tips To Save Money on Auto Insurance

Insurance premiums have been on a steady increase the past few years and has become a cause of concern for consumers. A recent industry wide car insurance satisfaction survey indicates that satisfaction levels have dropped by seven points. The 6.6% insurance hike comes up against a 1% inflation rate and this has many vehicle owners looking at ways to save on insurance – without compromising on coverage.

There are several ways to save on insurance premiums; however, insurance owners should be careful when they consider changing their policy or while reducing coverage. Car insurance is used to pay for all expenses in the event of a car accident. Ultimately, car insurance should be able to cover for repair costs, medical expenses, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses, without compromising an accident victim’s ability to pay for basic daily expenses. Here are a few pointers on getting the maximum out of insurance without compromising on coverage.

How to Save

  • Shop for insurance – Car insurance buyers should shop around and look at different insurance providers. Choose one that is best suited for your needs.
  • Look for discounts – Ask an insurance provider for discounts. Many insurance companies include discounts for good driving behaviour, students’ concessions, and discounts for certain groups.
  • Use one insurance provider – Many insurance companies offer multi-policy discounts. One can save by moving all policies (car insurance, homeowner’s policy, medical insurance, etc.) to one insurance provider.
  • Higher deductible – While trying to save on insurance premiums, increasing the deductible amount is one way to lower the monthly payment. However, policy owners should be aware that raising the deductible can cost more in the event of an accident.
  • Safety features – Adding safety features and technology in cars are designed to reduce accidents. Some insurance companies will consider these while calculating premium rates. More safety features can translate to lesser premiums.
  • Good credit – Credit scores are always considered when policy premiums are calculated. Maintaining a good credit score is an important factor for deciding insurance premium.
  • Stacking UM/UIM coverage – Dual or multiple car owners can opt to stack their UM/UIM coverage wherein the coverage doubles at an inexpensive cost.)

Avoid These Costly Mistakes

Reducing coverage can save on premium costs. However, it always comes at a price, especially in the event of an accident. Here is what one should not do.

  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) – UM/UIM is a coverage component that covers an accident victim in case the at-fault driver is not covered or is not covered enough to pay for the expenses. One should never reduce the UM/UIM coverage.
  • Tort option – Policy owners should always opt for full tort. In the event of an accident, the full tort clause enables a victim to sue for pain and suffering, thereby increasing the settlement amount one receives for car accident damages.

Accident Claims: Insurance Company Tactics You Should Be Aware Of

After a car accident, your first thought may be to claim compensation from the insurance company for your injuries and other losses. However, it has been known that insurance providers have methods to either minimize your claim or deny it altogether. To avoid these from happening to you, be aware of these common tactics that insurance companies use to deny accident claims.

Delaying

Insurance providers have a duty to process claims in a timely manner, but disreputable companies use stalling or delaying tactics to eventually force you to give up. Your insurance adjuster may use excuses such as ongoing investigation, more requirements to comply with, and coverage confirmation. Don’t hesitate to call the adjuster everyday if necessary and ask for a clear update on your claim.

Denying Fault

Fault or liability is a key element in insurance claims. If another driver is liable for your vehicle accident, that driver’s insurance provider may try to deny that it was his/her fault. Or, if it is obvious that the other driver was indeed at-fault, the insurer may try to minimize the liability by arguing that you were also partly at-fault.

Check your state’s laws on fault and comparative negligence – these set the rules on how you should be compensated with regard to who was at fault in the accident.

Claiming Lack Of Evidence

The insurance company may simply tell you that you have failed to provide enough evidence to support your claim. This is why it is crucial for you to document everything relevant to your accident. File a police report, take photographs, keep medical bills and reports, and document the wages you lost from missing days at work.

Minimizing Injury

To limit the amount they have to pay you, an insurance company may argue that the extent of your injuries isn’t as much as you claim it to be. Typically, the company hires a doctor or medical professional to conduct an “independent medical examination”. While this is part of the investigation process, some hired experts may unfairly conclude that your injuries aren’t as severe as claimed or that you underwent excessive treatment.

“Pre-existing Condition” Excuse

Another excuse that an insurance adjuster may take advantage of is claiming that your injuries are part of a pre-existing condition and weren’t caused by the accident. This tactic makes many people hesitate to pursue their compensation claim.

For example, if you have had arthritis before the accident, but started to experience back pain only after the accident, the adjuster may assert that your back pain is part of your pre-existing arthritis that didn’t have anything to do with the crash. Don’t abandon your claim because of assertions like this. A rule of thumb is that if the symptoms occurred only after the accident, they may very well have been caused by the accident.

Insurance company tactics are tricky and may not be easily recognizable. It is best that you get the guidance and protection of an accident attorney to ensure that you get paid the full amount you deserve.

Why You Shouldn’t Skimp on Underinsured Coverage

If the person has only minimum Illinois coverage then the most their insurance will pay you for your injuries and losses is $20,000.

Despite what many people think, there isn’t an endless stream of settlement money available to you if a negligent driver hits you and sends you to the hospital. What you can do after that depends on the choices you made when you purchased your own insurance.

Whom does underinsurance coverage pay?

If you are in an accident and the other driver was at fault but has no insurance, your uninsured/underinsured coverage is the insurance that will pay for your injuries and losses up to the amount of your policy. In case you missed that, underinsurance coverage is insurance on YOU if the negligent party doesn’t have enough insurance to cover you. If you only purchased the minimums, that amount would be $20k for you or $40k if others in your car were injured. However, if you wisely spent the extra few dollars per month to have adequate coverage, say $250,000/$500,000 then that money would be available to cover your injuries and losses.

Understanding Auto Insurance Coverage
If you have 250k/500k liability coverage, it is only a few dollars more to have that same coverage on you with underinsurance coverage. You aren’t buying insurance for the other driver, this money is to make sure your injuries and losses are covered in an accident caused by a negligent driver.

A typical case without adequate underinsurance coverage

A good example of inadequate underinsured coverage would be a young person who buys only the minimums ($20k/$40k) on both liability and underinsured coverage for his or her motorcycle. (To save money, of course) Your motorcycle accident occurs when a texting driver didn’t see you. Your injuries were typical for a serious motorcycle accident, leaving you with injuries and losses of over $150,000. The driver of the car only carries the minimum insurance. (Same as you)

This means that your negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company will be over how much of the $20,000 they are going to give you. There is no other money to fight over logistically. That leaves you $130,000 short. However, if you had $250,000/$500,000 underinsurance coverage or more, our negotiations for your settlement would be with your insurance company for your share of your $250,000 underinsured coverage.

5 Causes of Car Insurance Premium Increase in Chicago

While most of us have a good idea about the basics of car insurance, such as shopping around for a suitable insurance plan, selecting the needed coverages, making premium payments and adjusting the plan according to any changes in our situation.  But there are several factors that many people are unaware of that can cause insurance premiums to spike. Chicago car wreck lawyer explains these 5 factors in detail.

  1. Adding a teenage driver to the insurance plan – It’s a well-known fact that teen drivers are more prone to accidents, and insurance companies are well aware of this. Their inexperience combined with poor judgment become a perfect recipe for a car accident. Every time a teen driver ventures out on the road, they are prone to making mistakes and can cause accidents that involve other drivers. Due to this, once you add a teen driver to your insurance plan, your premium will most likely increase. Insurance companies perceive teen drivers as high-risk.
  2. Driving record and traffic accidents or violations – If you have been involved in any automobile accident or have any traffic tickets, your insurance rates may increase. Most insurance companies perform a background check on the driver, and during this process, they check for any traffic violations and accidents that he/she was involved in. If they find that you have received tickets or have been involved in any accident, your insurance premiums may spike.
  3. Purchasing a new car – It often costs much more to replace newer vehicles compared to older models. Also, newer models have a higher market value than older vehicles and insurance companies are aware of that.  If you get into an accident with your new vehicle, it may be more expensive to replace parts and make the repairs.
  4. Type of vehicle – Your insurance rates can decrease or increase based on the type of vehicle you drive. If you drive a swanky sports car, the premium rates you have to pay may increase for several reasons. These types of vehicles are stolen more often and attract more attention from law enforcement officials. This can make you more susceptible to traffic tickets. Family cars, in general, have lower premium rates.
  5. Marital Status – Married drivers with children are considered safe drivers because they are less likely to drive recklessly. Insurance companies believe that when a driver has children strapped into their vehicle, they will be more cautious while driving. Married drivers with children are also more likely to follow traffic rules and avoid accidents. On the other hand, unmarried drivers without children are considered high-risk drivers and have to pay higher premiums. If you are a man under the age of 25, be ready to pay more.

The Importance of Having Enough Auto Insurance

Despite Illinois law, many drivers that use our roads do not have insurance. Many others do not carry enough insurance. It seems to me that the people who have little or no car insurance always seem to be the most irresponsible drivers. Case in point – We were recently retained by pedestrians who were struck by a drunk driver in Chicago. One of the pedestrians suffered a wrongful death and the others suffered very serious injuries. Our investigation revealed that the drunk driver (now in jail) had car insurance, the Illinois minimum of $20,000 per person and $40,000 in the aggregate. Since the drunk driver had minimal insurance and the pedestrians did not carry sufficient UIM coverage, it appears that their maximum available recovery, between the four of them, will be $40,000, a tiny fraction of what their cases are worth. If the pedestrians would have carried more UIM coverage, let’s say $250,000 or more, they would be in much better shape. I recommend that anyone who owns a car carry AT LEAST $250,000 in UM/UIM coverage. In our case, the pedestrian not only have to suffer physically and emotionally but financially as well.

How Social Media Affects Car Accident Lawsuits

The internet, particularly social media, have become almost an addiction for many people. Take a look around and you will find people fixated on their smartphones. If you are involved in a car accident lawsuit, be careful about using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Defense attorneys and insurance companies may use your social media activities to contradict your claim. In some cases, this strategy is successful.

Posting on Social Media

Photos and comments posted on social media can hurt your case. If you have filed a car accident lawsuit claiming a back injury and you post a photo of yourself lifting weights in the gym or playing soccer with your kids, the insurance adjuster can use those postings as evidence against your claim. Your posted comments on social media can also be used against you.

Avoid Using Social Media

You should not give the insurance company anything that they could potentially misrepresent or manipulate in order to damage your case. The goal of the insurance company is to reduce any settlements as much as possible. In order to protect your claim, take a break from social media while your lawsuit is pending. If you do use social media, practice these safety tips to protect your legal rights:

  • Make any postings factual and brief.
  • Set your social media account to family and friends only.
  • Do not accept any friend or follow request from people you do not know.

Dealing With Medical Bill Collectors

After the shock of being injured in a Chicago car accident comes the shock of how much it can cost you.

Not only are you looking at car repairs and bodywork, but may now be facing a stack of medical bills that your health insurance policy will not cover. Before you take out a second mortgage to start paying off those medical bills, you should speak with a car accident attorney. They may be able to help you recover your financial damages, and even lower your costs in the process.

Even for Chicago drivers who have comprehensive car insurance coverage to cover the cost of the medical care, it could take months before you see a payout from your claim. In most cases, a driver will be expected to pay for those medical charges out of pocket until the claim is settled, hopefully in their favor. Any injury causing accident is going to be complicated, and the car insurance company is likely to conduct an investigation, trying to find ways in which they can deny your claim.

Should You Pay Your Medical Bills Before Getting Compensation for Your Car Accident?

Before putting yourself into further debt paying off the medical bills incurred from a Chicago car accident, you should consult with a Chicago car accident lawyer. They can explore other forms of compensation that could result in you receiving more compensation over-all. Bring all of the details of the car accident, including the police report, with you to the consultation along with your medical records and bills.

It is important during this time that you are keeping careful track of all of your expenses related to the car accident during this time. Not only does that help in ensuring that you recover all of the money spent, it goes towards helping establish the seriousness of your injury.

Should You Accept a Quick Settlement in Order to Avoid Collections?

Taking some time to resolve a car accident settlement can also be beneficial to you. If you have suffered injury that will require long term care, the cost of that future care could be incorporated into the settlement amount. Once you accept an offer, you are usually not permitted to ask for more, and since the extent of injury is not always evident at first, it could be in your best interest to wait until your treatment has been completed to see what the outlook is.

Negotiating With Medical Bill Collectors

A Chicago car accident attorney also has the ability to speak directly with your creditors while your claim is being processed. They can provide proof that bills will be paid after the settlement, and in some cases negotiate to have the bills reduced on your behalf. As a result, you may pay less for your medical care.

 

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