Higher Liability Coverage or Uninsured/Underinsured: Which Should I Buy?
Which should I buy: higher liability coverage or Uninsured/Uninsured Coverage? During conversations with clients, this is a question that comes up quite often. This especially when the client has significant medical damages that exceed the minimum policy requirements in Texas and we are trying to figure out how to get all of the bills paid.
What is the Minimum Liability Coverage I am Required to Have In Texas?
Under Texas Transportation Code § 601.072(a-1)(1-3), the owner of a vehicle is required to carry at least:
- Protection from lawsuits: In the event that you are at fault in an accident and the injuries are significant, having a higher policy limit will allow you to provide a greater settlement amount using insurance dollars as opposed to your own. However, this is only really helpful for people with assets that are unprotected. It is really difficult to collect judgments against regular people in Texas. For most of us, we don’t have any assets that would be subject to a judgment creditor’s attempts to satisfy a debt. So, what do we care? Get a judgment against you cannot collect, Plaintiff. I’ll buy you a picture frame and you can hang that on your wall. So, for most people, a higher liability policy may not be the best use of your funds. I do think $30,000 may not be enough, I would not have any lower on my own policy than $50,000/$100,000 or $50,000/$150,000. Why? Its not that much more per month and it provides some assurance that your butt is covered.
- Helping the injured person or person get the funds they may REALLY NEED: Car accidents suck, you guys. Trust me. I deal with injured people all day. They suck. They just do. The victim is in pain. Missing work. No money coming in but you are spewing out money like Ol’ Faithful. If you are in at-fault in an accident, as drivers sharing the road with one another, we need to hold ourselves accountable for what we do. God forbid it, but if I am involved in an accident where it is my fault, I really do hope that they are “okay” and if they need medical help, I want to be able to help them in any way that I can. I have the ability to purchase additional coverage to make sure that the person I hurt can get the treatment they need. Why? Because if the opposite were also true, I would want them to do have done the same thing I did: carry more coverage. What if its not me who is hurt, but one of my children? What if the injured victim does not have health insurance? Insurance premiums are through the roof lately, and millions are going without because its not possible for them. If my coverage doesn’t cover their bills they may end up footing the bill for a bunch of medical bills and treatments that they didn’t cause. I can’t live with that. So, I carry more.
Reasons to Carry Uninsured/Underinsured
Before we get into that, a quick explanation of the purpose of uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM). UM/UIM coverage is a first party coverage, meaning its a coverage that you, as the insured, buy on your own policy for your own benefit. So, if you are in an accident and the other party only has $30,000 in coverage (or no coverage, i.e. uninsured) and your damages exceed that amount, then you can trigger that UM/UIM coverage on your own policy and seek compensation for your injuries that way. If the other party has coverage, then you will need to exhaust their policy first (take all that money), and then send your insurance company a settlement demand and make them help you pay for your additional damages. It is a real life saver for a lot of people. Anyway, onto the list!
- Additional Coverage “Just in Case”: We hit on this a little bit above. What if the at-fault party’s coverage does not provide enough coverage for all of your medical bills? Well, you better hope you decided to purchase that extra coverage. Why? Because those hospitals and medical providers want to get paid and you’re the patient they provided services to, not the at-fault party. So, purchase the extra coverage just in case.
- Families Need This Coverage: I am a dad. I have like, a billion kids. They’re everywhere and we go out together as a family all the time. So, imagine we are all together in an accident, all 5 going on 6 of us and we are injured in an accident. The other driver is at fault. Their policy is only a minimum $30/$60 policy. My family would fall into that $60,000 section of it. But what if some of us are hurt and our medical bills, even after health insurance, are $90,000. My health insurance wants to subrogate the amounts they paid out on my behalf and under special ERISA provisions, they’re entitled to ALL THE MONEY THEY PAID OUT on my family’s behalf. You think that is a weird scenario? Well, it’s not. Most accidents that involve families involve high medical bills. Your health insurance coverage, if you have it, is most likely an ERISA benefit plan. Essentially, my scenario is your scenario. It is morbid for me to be writing about this. I hate the thought of it but my job is to live in the real world, not just for me and my family, but also for you as a personal injury attorney. I want you to be as prepared as possible in the event that an accident happens. As the father to my children, it is my duty to make sure that they are taken care of and financially a significant motor vehicle accident could financially destroy my family. I bet your family is the same way. It’s okay. Most people would say the same thing. As parents we need to make sure we do all that we can to protect our family in the event that something “bad” happens. Carrying additional coverage where possible is very important.
Conclusion: Both Are Good, But if You Have to Choose, Choose Your Own
So, how do I really answer the question when a client asks what they should do going forward? I say get both, but if you have to choose, choose you and your family. By that I mean, choose uninsured/underinsured coverage. In most motor vehicle accidents, the minimum coverage should do it. Although with the increase in medical services costs, that number should be increased in the next few years, worst case scenario, the minimum policy will cover your butt. However, you should cover yourself and get excess coverage for yourself at the very least. I encourage you to purchase additional liability coverage, just as a person to make sure you can help an injured person as much as you can. And don’t think that I am saying that just because I want to make more money (I am a personal injury attorney at the end of the day), but here I am just being a human being. Any personal injury attorney will tell you that the goal of each case is to get the most money for their clients, but what does that really mean? It means the amount that makes their client “whole” for their injuries, if possible. Insurance companies are not in the business of handing out money to people. In fact, their practices are the exact opposite. They do anything they can to keep all the money. Don’t think that you are just giving out free money by purchasing extra coverage. The extra coverage is just extra “cushion” for the more severe injuries.
So, purchase both but if you have to choose, buy more for you and your family.
INJURED IN A TEXAS AUTO OR TRUCK ACCIDENT? CALL THE TRUSTED PERSONAL INJURY TEAM AT GUEST AND GRAY, P.C.
If you have been injured in an accident in the Dallas, Kaufman or Rockwall county areas, or anywhere in the State of Texas, you need to call the trusted personal injury team at Guest and Gray, P.C. Our firm is the largest and highest rated firm in both Kaufman and Rockwall counties. Our personal injury attorneys are caring, trusted and local. We pride ourselves in hard work and results.
Don’t call just any law firm to guide you through the courts. When you hire an attorney from Guest and Gray, P.C., you not only get an attorney assigned to your case, but you get a knowledgeable and caring support staff. Dealing with injuries or the loss of a loved one is stressful enough. Don’t waste your time having to hassle with your legal team. Call the law firm that cares. Call Guest and Gray, P.C. at 972-564-4644