Often it takes a motor vehicle collision to realize that your auto insurance is insufficient and not comprehensive. This is the final blog post in a series that identifies critical elements of your auto insurance coverage and how to ensure that, going forward, you have maximum protection in the event of an accident. For many reasons, but most importantly when your car is hit by an uninsured driver, it is imperative that you carry collision coverage on your auto insurance policy.
Our firm has seen a plethora of accidents this year in which our clients are unable to get their cars repaired due to the lack of coverage on their own policies. Specifically, these clients have elected not purchase collision coverage, which covers damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. While you will have to pay a deductible in order to have your car repaired, it is a critical aspect of your coverage even if you have an older and less valuable vehicle. Below are several scenarios where our client's' vehicles are damaged due to no fault of their own but they are without a vehicle for days, weeks or even months after an accident.
First, uninsured drivers are rampant across the greater Baltimore area. I have countless clients who are struck by motorists driving without insurance. In the second blog of this series, I explained how UM (uninsured motorist) coverage is important in such a situation. However, you can have ample UM coverage on your policy but waive your collision coverage. This means that, in a scenario where you are hit by an uninsured driver, you can make a bodily injury claim but will not be able to have your car repaired until a UM claim is established by your insurance company. This process can take weeks and sometimes a month or more. Pragmatically speaking, this is a major inconvenience, as it means your ability to get to work, run errands and take care of your family can be significantly impaired. Remember, your auto insurance may come into play repeatedly after an accident caused by another driver. It's not enough to hope that other drivers have acted responsibly with regards to their auto coverage.
A second common scenario is a hit and run accident, where the driver flees the scene of a motor vehicle collision. Again, our firm sees this scenario on a very regular basis. Here, you will also make a UM claim with your insurance company but the investigation process can take several weeks. It is not as if your insurance company does not believe your version of what happened but, due to years of insurance fraud in our country, it will investigate the claim in a very serious and thorough manner. This means that your insurance company will often wait for a police report if available and/or assign a special investigator to look into the circumstances of the accident. In the meantime, if you do not carry collision coverage, you may be without your vehicle for a significant period of time. Many of may clients tell me that they do not have collision coverage because they have an old vehicle with little value. Here is what I tell them: IF IT DRIVES, THEN YOU NEED TO CARRY COLLISION COVERAGE. Just think about what it would be like to not have your car for just one week, regardless of its age or value.
The final scenario is also very common at our firm, particularly because of the awful liability laws in Maryland. This is a disputed liability accident. I am consistently meeting with clients who were in an accident due to no fault of their own. However, when there is a disagreement between drivers as to how the accident occurred, it is very likely that the other insurance company will "believe their insured's version," and deny any liability for the accident and refuse to pay bodily injury and property damage claims. Yes, it is true, other drivers lie after they cause an accident! Without independent witnesses or other favorable post-accident evidence, many of my clients will ultimately have no claim going forward. This is an unfair situation but it happens all the time in Maryland.
Many times our firm obtains evidence after the accident that supports our client's version of events in a disputed case. In these situations, we will file suit and fight for our clients in court in order to ultimately obtain justice for them. This process can take many months and sometimes a year or more. In the meantime, if there is no collision coverage on my client's policy, she will be without her car indefinitely or be forced to spend unplanned money on the purchase of a new vehicle.
So for all these above reasons, you can see how important it is to carry collision on your auto policy. I am repeatedly educating my clients, when evaluating their polices, that they need to protect themselves because there way too many irresponsible motorists on the road in Maryland who drive with no or little insurance coverage on their vehicles.
If you have any questions about collision coverage or other aspects of your auto insurance coverage, contact the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow at (410) 777-8960 or online at MDACCIDENTLAW.COM
DON'T SETTLE FOR ANYONE ELSE!