Many people are inclined to spend more money in the summer. The nicer weather encourages people to go out more or take a vacation rather than stay at home. However this all costs money and can have a devastating effect on the monthly budget. Oftentimes people are tempted to reduce their monthly auto insurance policy in efforts to ease the financial stress while still enjoying fun summer activities. That may seem like a much more plausible idea than skipping the beach vacation, but please, don’t do it! Reducing your monthly auto liability insurance coverage is a big mistake that many people make and unfortunately it often ends up costing them in ways they never imagined.
Our attorneys are constantly advising our clients to spend the extra money on obtaining an auto insurance policy that is best suited for their individual needs. It’s important to make sure your liability insurance coverage provides enough financial cushion to cover the costs of mounting medical bills so you won’t be paying a ton out of pocket. And on the flip side it’s also important to have a high bodily injury liability coverage to protect your personal assets if you are sued. Whether you’re at fault or the innocent party, you stand to suffer a huge financial loss if you don’t have sufficient coverage. Below we have outlined a few of the important provisions to consider when choosing an auto insurance policy.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
In 2013 the Illinois House passed legislation raising the minimum liability coverage from $20,000 to $25,000 for injury or death to one person and from $40,000 to $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people. While the $5,000 increase may sound like a lot, it’s a small amount in dealing with today’s medical costs, especially for someone who doesn’t have health insurance. Even those who do have health insurance find themselves in a tight position financially, as healthcare costs compete for a larger share of their disposable income, leaving little left to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. As a result it’s a good idea to consider raising your coverage to prevent unnecessary debt if you are not in the financial position to cover high medical costs.
Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
Uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage is also required under Illinois law, with limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. However you have the option to buy higher limits. If you buy higher UM coverage, then underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage is also included in the same limits you select for UM coverage. UIM coverage kicks in if the other driver is at fault and your damages exceed the other driver’s bodily liability limits. Too often the innocent party is forced into debt because the negligent party had inadequate insurance or no insurance at all.
Moreover the fact that 15% of Illinois motorists drive without insurance is discomforting and should be another incentive to make sure you have sufficient UM coverage. Such provisions, if triggered, allow for the insured to seek compensation for their injuries from their own insurance company under their policy limits. UM coverage is triggered in two instances: (1) if you were hit by a driver who didn’t have any insurance or (2) if you were hit by a driver who left the scene of the accident. The purpose of UM coverage is to take place of the liability coverage the insured would have received if the other driver was insured and if you are not the at-fault party.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payments coverage (“med pay”) is not required under Illinois law, however we highly recommend including it in your policy. This type of coverage pays up to a certain amount of your medical bills and protects you no matter whose fault the accident was – unlike bodily injury liability coverage that only covers the other party’s medical expenses.
Our attorneys understand that choosing the right auto liability insurance policy is no easy task. We can help you evaluate the different options and find the right coverage. We want to make sure our clients are fully protected when they are on the road and we are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.