Buying Auto Insurance? Don’t Let Brokers Talk You Into Waiving or Reducing UM/UIM Benefits
By: Matthew J. Bilker, Esquire
Whenever I meet with new and prospective clients who have been injured in motor vehicle collisions, amongst the documents I ask them to bring with them is what is called their “Declarations Sheet,” i.e., a list of the different coverages that they have purchased on their automobiles. Whether they have purchased their policies through Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, GEICO, or any other number of insurance carriers, most clients have no idea what coverages they elected until after they are injured in an automobile accident.
A primer – in 1990, the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law was updated to advance two policies – (i) providing the most possible coverage to injury victims of motor vehicle accidents and (ii) to contain the widespread, rising costs of premiums when purchasing automobile insurance.
To that end, consumers are now entitled to chose from different coverages (liability, medical loss, wage loss, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage), weighing how much they want to pay in premiums versus how much coverage they want for prospective losses and damages.
Time and time again, clients come to me with what I would consider to be good liability insurance (at least $100,000). What that means is, if you are negligent and you cause an accident where someone else sustains injuries, your auto insurer will indemnify you for damages that the injured individual sustains up to $100,000. However, clients have often chosen to have less coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorist claims (or worse, have chosen to flat out reject that coverage).
Uninsured /underinsured motorist benefits protects YOU in the event that YOU are injured in a motor vehicle collision and the person who hit you either (i) does not have enough liability insurance, or (ii) does not have adequate liability insurance to cover the losses and damages you sustained in the accident. In Pennsylvania, this acts as “excess” insurance.
Underinsured motorist coverage is especially important because the mandatory minimum amount of liability insurance coverage required by the law in Pennsylvania is only $15,000. Thus, if you get seriously injured by someone with only that amount of coverage and you have waived or lowered your own underinsured motorist coverage, you are at risk of a sustaining a “coverage tragedy” (not enough available insurance money to compensate you for the losses and damages you sustained).
Insurers are required to offer to consumers the same amount of coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits as they offer to that same consumer for his or her liability coverage. However, consumers have the option to “waive” that coverage or “sign down,” which means elect lower UM/UIM coverages.
Never do this.
In the grand scheme of things, UM/UIM coverage is a much cheaper premium than those you pay for liability coverage and property damage coverage. But it is the best option available to protect you in the event that you are injured.
So why do people do it? Because the insurance industry talks them into it.
Whether you are purchasing your automobile insurance online, or speaking with a sales representative or broker, do not let them talk you into rejecting uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Do not let them talk you into reducing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. There is no reason to do this. The coverage is cheap and is amongst the best coverages you can buy when purchasing automobile insurance. You should buy as much uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage that is available from your insurer.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Victims of Chain Reaction Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident, call the Delaware County personal injury lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. today. For a free consultation, call us at 610-565-3701 or fill out an online form. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.