Understanding insurance coverage
Most people understand they need insurance to protect them against financial risk if something goes wrong. Your policy is a legal contract between you and the insurance company, detailing what the company will pay in certain circumstances in exchange for the premium you pay to the company.
Insurance Companies are NOT on Your Side (spoiler: this is by design)
Although this seems to be a simple concept, insurance policies are complex. The one common denominator among all of them is that the way an insurance company makes money is by taking in more in premiums than they pay out in claims. The concept of insurance company profit puts them at odds with the folks they insure, by creating a conflict of interest when they put their own profitability over protection of their clients when accidents happen.
Where the Law Comes into Play
You may think that there must be laws in place to stop insurance companies from engaging in unfair practices. After all, they have a contract to protect their customer from legal liability for damage they accidentally cause. In situations where the insurance company messes up a claim in a way that hurts their policyholder, the law allows the policyholder to hold the insurance company accountable for that mistake. The law provides two main avenues for policyholders to punish insurance companies: these are bad faith claims and vexatious refusal claims. The type you can file depends on the type of claim the insurance company unjustly denied.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Levels the Field
If you are injured in a car accident, you will incur medical expenses, lose income when you are unable to work, and suffer emotional damages. A personal injury settlement can protect you financially and help you recover from your injuries. It is important to understand how insurance coverage works.
Insurance companies know that individuals who don’t have a lawyer are at a big disadvantage when it comes to dealing with them, and oftentimes they take full advantage of that opportunity to increase their profit margin at their customer’s expense.
At Jett Legal, we know the laws concerning insurance company wrongdoing, and we have aggressively taken on all of the major insurance companies when they do the wrong thing. We are personally invested in helping our clients in St. Louis, Missouri, and from Jefferson County to St. Charles County obtain fair compensation for the damages they incur when someone else is negligent. We are with you every step of the journey.
Who Pays for Personal Injury Claims in Missouri?
Missouri is a fault state. This means that negligent parties, those who fail to exercise a duty of care to others on the roadway, are financially accountable for compensating their victims. Anyone at fault, including you, could be held liable for damages resulting from a car accident. That is why it is important to have adequate insurance to cover you, your vehicle, and to protect you if you are assigned some of the fault.
There are three ways to recover compensation:
- You can file a claim with your own insurance company for medical payment benefits, or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
- You can file a claim against the insurance policy of a driver at fault for the crash. This is a “third-party” claim.
- If the at-fault driver’s insurance company fails to offer an adequate sum to settle your claim, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Their insurance company will defend them in the lawsuit.
What Insurance Coverage is Required or Optional in Missouri?
Missouri auto owners are required by law to have liability coverage for each vehicle they own. There are minimum coverages, although you may choose to carry higher limits to protect yourself.
The minimum requirements are $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage and $50,000 per accident. You must also carry at least $25,000 in property liability coverage. These would pay someone else should you be at fault for an accident.
You must also have at least uninsured motorist coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This coverage would be available to pay you should the at-fault driver be uninsured.
Optional coverage you may want to have includes medical payment benefits. These pay for your medical expenses regardless of who is at fault. “Med pay” helps tide you over until you can settle a third-party claim.
Underinsured motorist coverage will provide coverage if your damages exceed the limits of an at-fault driver’s liability policy. For example, you incur $100,000 in medical expenses and other damages but the at-fault driver has only the $25,000 minimum liability limits.
You may also want to have comprehensive and collision insurance. Comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle if it sustains damage from weather-related events or theft. Collision covers damage to your vehicle if you are in an accident, regardless of fault.
Is a Liability Insurance Policy the Only Way to Meet the Legal Requirement?
In Missouri, there are three ways you can meet the legal requirements for liability coverage.
- Active motor vehicle liability insurance policy with at least the 25/50/25 minimum coverage requirements.
- Proof of financial responsibility filed with the DOR, backed by a surety or real estate bond, cash, or securities such as CDs.
- A DOR-issued proof of self-insurance. These are often used by private companies or religious organizations.
You must always carry proof of coverage in your vehicle and produce it upon request of law enforcement or by the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR).
Jett Legal: Get the Guidance You Need
At Jett Legal, we believe that our job is to help our clients by demystifying insurance coverage after they have been injured in an accident. It is our responsibility to explore every coverage option available to you so we leave nothing on the table if you need compensation for your damages If you have questions about insurance coverage, or if you have been injured in a car accident in or around the St. Louis, Missouri area, we can help. Call us today to schedule a free case consultation.