Know Your Car Insurance Options: Optional Coverage You Should Carry and Why

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

In West Virginia, motorists must carry bodily injury liability; property damage liability; and uninsured motorist bodily injury and property damage coverage. Although most motorists meet the minimum mandatory auto insurance coverage requirements, your car insurance options don’t stop there. There are optional types of coverage that drivers should consider. Choosing them could yield better financial protection in the event of a serious or catastrophic accident.

Reasons to Carry Optional Types of Car Insurance Coverage

Liability coverage can pay for someone else’s injuries or property damage when a driver is at fault for an accident. So naturally most assume that if another driver is the one responsible for a crash, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance will cover costs. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

One reason is that the amount of coverage may not be enough. Medical costs alone could well exceed the minimum requirement of $20,000 for one injured person in an accident.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Insurers are required to offer underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage (minimum $10,000 property damage and $20,000 bodily injury per person and $40,000 per accident), though consumers are not required to carry it.

Underinsured motorist coverage can help in situations where the at-fault driver’s coverage isn’t enough to pay for all damages. Drivers should carry underinsured motorist coverage because one never knows if serious injury will occur. People don’t plan for a car crash to happen. Most certainly can’t predict the financial devastation it could cause.

Keep in mind that payment of damages that exceed the other driver’s coverage will be up to the policy limits. Let’s say the other driver has $20,000 bodily injury liability, but damages total $35,000.

If the injured person also has $20,000 underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, everything will be covered ($20,000 from at-fault driver and $15,000 from UIM coverage). But if costs exceed $40,000, then one will likely have to pay out of pocket. So it’s best to get as much underinsured coverage as one can afford.

Another reason to carry this type of insurance is that it provides protection to any passengers who are injured in an accident. It can also cover damages to the insured when injured as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle.

Medical Payments Coverage

Another car insurance option that drivers should consider is medical payments coverage. It’s common for people to purchase $5,000 in coverage although higher amounts are available. This could be enough to take care of deductibles or co-pays in a health plan if necessary.

Medical payments coverage is only available to pay for medical expenses related to the accident, regardless of fault:

  • emergency transportation services;
  • hospitalization;
  • imaging tests;
  • nursing care;
  • prostheses; and
  • rehabilitation.

Like underinsured motorist coverage, Med Pay can help pay for injuries to passengers or when the insured is struck by a car.

Seeking Compensation When Auto Insurance Coverage Isn’t Enough

Despite the other party having liability coverage or the injured person having other car insurance coverage options, it may still not be enough to pay for damages.

Even though uninsured motorist coverage can help pay for accident costs stemming from a collision with a driver who has no insurance or one who flees the scene, there can still be a significant financial burden left on the shoulders of the injured party.

This may necessitate seeking legal action via a lawsuit against an at-fault driver. Compensation could address not only the medical expenses and time missed from work but other damages such as disability, disfigurement and mental anguish.

Accidents that are serious or catastrophic can impact the victim’s life in the long-term. Under these circumstances it’s best to seek legal advice. An attorney can advise of legal rights after an accident and explain the legal options available.

Call The Miley Legal Group at (304) 931-4088 if you’ve been injured in and around Clarksburg, WV and require legal assistance.