Nobody teaches anyone in this world how to purchase automobile insurance. Certainly, the agents we deal with are usually nice people and treat us well – – but if a loss occurs, they won’t be the people we deal with. Instead, we will be confronted by the insurance company’s “claims adjuster” or “claims specialist”. This is a professional who is trained and assisted by lawyers working with the insurance company long before you ever had your accident.
Those same lawyers helped to write the policy (the other person’s or your own) as well, and we’re sure you didn’t consult a lawyer when you bought your auto insurance… So you see, the field was never level – – it was tilted their way from the get-go. Insurance companies often say you don’t need a lawyer — but ask yourself “why do they say that?” Then call us and consult with us for free. We can help.
- Uninsured motorist coverage. The law requires insurance companies who sell automobile liability insurance in most states, including Missouri and Illinois, to also provide a certain amount of uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage usually applies to bodily injury claims only and only if you can prove the “other guy” had no valid automobile liability coverage. If you are involved in an automobile accident with a driver who is uninsured, you may have an uninsured motorist claim against your own automobile insurance carrier. The automobile insurance policies of other persons or those covering other vehicles in your household may also apply in your case.
- Underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage you may have on your automobile insurance policy (or the policy of other persons in your household). Underinsured motorist coverage may provide coverage when you are injured by a driver who has liability insurance but in sufficient amounts to adequately compensate you for your damages.
- Handling uninsured and underinsured claims. Uninsured and underinsured motorist claims are complex and involve issues not present in a pure liability based claim. For example, either of these types of claims may involve contract law issues, “stacking” issues, subrogation issues, etc. Due to the complex nature of these claims, you should consult with an attorney regarding any uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.
- Medical payments coverage. If you are involved in an automobile accident, you may have medical payments coverage on either your auto policy or the auto policy covering the vehicle in which you were an occupant This coverage can be used to pay your medical bills as the bills are incurred. This is separate from liability coverage and, at times, you can submit the same medical bills to the same insurance carrier for payment under both the medical payments coverage and liability coverage. This is crucial in some cases.
- Health insurance. If you are covered under a health insurance policy you can also submit your medical bills to your health insurance carrier for payment. In fact, you can submit your bills to both the medical payments carrier (if applicable) and your health insurance carrier. Both of these types of coverage are in addition to the liability insurance available. Usually, your health insurance carrier will not be entitled to any reimbursement (subrogation) from the liability carrier unless it is an ERISA plan. Subrogation and reimbursement issues are complex and you should consult with an attorney if such an issue arises.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If you are injuries in an automobile accident while on the job, you may be covered under a workers’ compensation insurance policy. The workers’ compensation policy may pay your medical bills, a portion of your lost wages (temporary total disability benefits) and a sum for any permanent disability. You can also make a separate claim under the auto liability insurance for the driver at fault in the accident. In effect, you would have two different claims pending. However, the workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to reimbursement (subrogation) from the proceeds of the automobile insurance for a percentage of the benefits it has paid to you. It is not uncommon to have both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party liability claim (i.e., auto insurance claim) pending at the same time. These claims (and the relationship between them) can be complex and you should seek the advice of an attorney.