This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of independent insurance agents and aimed at helping you understand important insurance coverages and issues.
Is your auto policy looking a little thin? It could be if you only purchased the minimum coverage your state requires.
In my experience, driver after driver after driver consistently overlook important coverages that could come to their aid in times of dire need. Here are three I recommend you no longer ignore – talk to your independent agent for more information.
- Medical Payments (Med Pay): Referred to as Personal Injury Protection in some states, this helps cover the medical bills of anyone in your own vehicle, both driver and passengers, from dollar one. Meaning, regardless of who is at fault for an accident, your coverage may kick in as soon as you file the claim, potentially with no deductible and no waiting for the final claim decision. It’s an important coverage not to overlook because major injuries come with major medical bills – even minor injuries can be costly nowadays.Some states require this coverage, so you may already have it. If not, I recommend adding it to your auto policy. Even $2,000 worth of Med Pay coverage can make a difference. The last thing you need is thousands of dollars’ worth of medical bills hanging over your head.
- Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM): Approximately one in eight drivers doesn’t carry any auto insurance (as estimated by the Insurance Research Council in 2014). Other drivers don’t carry enough – meaning that, if they’re at fault for an accident, their coverage will help with your expenses a little but fall short of the total bill. Either way, if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist, what it means for you is this: Money out of your own pocket. Without UM/UIM, you could have to foot the full cost of recovery, for both your medical bills and car repair bills, yourself.A handful of states require this coverage, but it’s worth having regardless of what state regulations say. Just imagine how much worse a major fender bender would be after finding out the other driver has no coverage and you don’t have the right coverage on your own policy either. It’s a whole lot more agonizing than the cost of adding UM/UIM to your policy, trust me.
- Emergency Assist Program (EAP): Think of this as Roadside Assistance on steriods. It includes all the goodies of Roadside Assistance, such as gas delivery, flat tire and lockout assistance, battery jumpstarts and towing for a specified distance, plus a whole lot more. It also picks up the tab, according to your policy limits, for excess expenses, such as spending the night in a hotel because you’re more than 25 miles away from home and your car needs to go in the shop. Personal belongings, such as clothes, may also be covered if they are damaged as a result of the accident.If you’re on the road a lot, this is a go-to coverage option for you. Because shelling out for unplanned lodging, food and transportation costs on top of car repairs will put a damper on your trip and a strain on your wallet every time.
I know it’s tempting to think that bare-bones car insurance is enough. If luck is always on your side and you never encounter any of the above scenarios, maybe it is. Then again, maybe not. That’s why I urge you not to ignore Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist and Emergency Assistance Package coverages any longer.
After all, your auto policy is there to protect you, but only against the scenarios you elect to carry coverage for. Talk to your independent agent about updating your auto policy today.