As with all insurance claim issues, it is extremely important to review the relevant policy before making decisions about processing your personal injury claim. If you are driving or are a passenger in a vehicle owned by another friend or family member, this is especially true. After a car accident, your focus should rightfully be on medical treatment and feeling better. Experienced personal injury attorneys will help ensure that insurance issues are controlled, and your benefits are maximized.
There are four types of car insurance relevant while you are driving in a friend’s vehicle. First is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP insurance acts as a floating layer of coverage that provides medical, wage, and necessary services payments after a vehicle collision. For example, PIP might pay for your hospital bill without copays, your two weeks of wage loss, or your need to hire a house cleaner if you are unable to complete your normal activities. PIP is mandated by the state unless waived in writing and typically provides $10,000.00 of coverage (although more can be purchased).
Fortunately, PIP insurance follows the person. So, if you have your own car insurance, and part of your insurance includes a PIP policy, your coverage will follow you no matter what vehicle you are driving. Often, if you are driving or a passenger in a friend’s car at the time of an accident, the friend’s PIP policy (if applicable) will provide a double layer of coverage. So, in effect, if two PIP policies are active, you might have $20,000.00 or more in accessible medical, wage, or services coverage.
The second common scenario where insurance is important is liability coverage. If you are driving your friend’s car, state law requires that you have at least $25,000 in liability coverage protecting other drivers from you causing a car accident. With the increased cost of medical bills and wage loss, high liability limits are very important. Liability policies can range into the millions but are most typically under $500,000. If you cause an accident, your assets will thank you by having a larger liability policy.
Third, underinsured / uninsured motorist coverage is a lifesaver as well. If you are driving or a passenger in your friend’s car, both your policy and the friend’s policy might be in play. UIM/UM coverage helps you if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient or non-existent. If the driver has no insurance, then the UM insurance will step into the at-fault driver’s shoes to make payments to you instead. If both you and your friend have this insurance, it might mean increased limits to cover your damages.
Finally, umbrella insurance is always important, as well. This coverage acts like another floating layer for the person. No matter what car you are driving in, umbrella coverage provides an additional (and often very inexpensive) layer of insurance to protect you and your assets. The umbrella always kicks in last. Meaning that if you cause an accident in your friend’s car, the injured party will need to exhaust the liability limits before they will dip into your umbrella policy.
At Magnuson Lowell PS, we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients are made whole as part of their insurance claim. If our client was driving in their own vehicle or in their best friend’s vehicle, there are many insurance issues that can and will affect a financial recovery. Our experience team of litigators know the ins-and-outs of insurance negotiation. Call today for a free case evaluation!