Full Coverage: Understanding Your Auto Insurance
Auto insurance is mandated by California, but it provides only basic financial protection if you (or another driver using your car) causes an accident that hurts someone or damages someone else’s property. Clients often are told by insurance agents or brokers that they have purchased “full coverage,” only to find out after an accident that it is not what they expected. Minimum coverage is all that is required by California, but that it is not what I would call “full coverage.” Why? Because the state-required minimum may not cover the cost of a serious accident.
In California the state-required minimum for auto liability insurance is $15,000 per person for injuries, up to $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage. These amounts may not be sufficient in the event of a serious accident. In the event these amounts are not enough to fix the damage caused by a serious accident, you will be personally responsible for the rest. For that reason, consider purchasing higher levels of coverage, if you can afford to do so.
California also mandates that auto insurance companies offer you uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage with your policy. However, but the law allows consumers to waive UM/UIM coverage and many people do so to bring down the cost of insurance. I explain to my clients that liability insurance protects everyone else on the road but you, but UM/UIM protects you from others on the road who either are driving with no insurance or without enough insurance to cover your injuries and damages in the event of a serious accident. If a client is seriously hurt by a driver who either has no auto insurance or has a minimum policy, the client’s own UM/UIM coverage often makes the difference between getting my client fair compensation for her injury and not. For that reason, I tell my clients do not waive UM/UIM coverage.
There are other optional coverages that the law does not require, but that might be helpful in the event of a serious accident including:
- Medical Payments coverage provides reimbursement for medical expenses for accident related injuries to you or your passengers. This will allow you to cover medical expenses health insurance does not cover (co-pays and deductibles) or allow you to get medical treatment without health insurance.
- Collision coverage will pay for accident related damage to your car regardless of who is at fault. This will allow you to get your car repaired even if the other driver’s insurance company is disputing how the accident happened. Other related coverages include Roadside Assistance/Towing and Rental.
- Collision only covers the market value of your car, not what you paid for it or what you may owe the finance company. If your car is totaled in a serious accident, there may be a “gap” between what you owe on the vehicle and your (or the other driver’s) insurance coverage. To cover this, you may want to look into purchasing Gap Insurance to pay the difference.
- “I would highly recommend Eugene Bruno & Associates! They helped me out with a case of mine and everything worked out perfectly. I worked with Amir, one of the lawyers and he was amazing. Definitely would work with him again. Thank you!”
- Mona Hakim, Google Review
- “This people deserve more than 5 stars. I would highly recommend them to anyone.”
- Faisal A., Google Review
- “You will not be disappointed hiring these guys. Eugene Bruno & Associates are the best car accident lawyers in San Diego and I recommend them 100%!!”
- Adam C., Google Review
- “Take the time to speak with Mr. Bruno, he will definitely help you and guide you and make you feel like family! Best decision I have made, I went with the best. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!!”
- Lakeisha E., Google Review