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Understanding Car Insurance (Part 1)

Posted onJanuary 7, 2013

When you are involved in a car accident one of the first issues that comes up usually involves questions regarding car insurance.  We all know that we are supposed to have car insurance.  In Oklahoma you have to show proof of insurance in order to title and tag your car.  But too many people don’t pay enough attention or don’t understand what they are buying when they go online or talk to their insurance agent.  What follows is a brief explanation about what is included (and not included) in your car insurance policy.  (Note:  This discussion is geared to car insurance in Oklahoma.  Because of differences in the law between the various states, there can be differences in insurance policies purchased in other states.)

Most motor vehicle insurance policies in Oklahoma will include coverage in several different categories.  You can check on your own coverage in each category by referring to your proof of insurance card or the billing statement that you receive from your insurance company.  In this blog, I’ll talk about liability coverage.  In later installments we will discuss medical payments (med-pay), collision, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Liability Coverage is what you buy to protect yourself from a claim made by someone else against you if you are the one who is responsible for causing an accident.  Conversely,  if the other driver is the one at fault and you are making the claim, the part of his/her insurance that pays you will be his/her liability coverage.  Liability coverage can include protection for both property damage and bodily injury claims.

When purchasing car insurance one of the important things to consider is the limit of liability coverage that you pay for.  In Oklahoma the minimum required liability coverage for personal injury is currently at least $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident.  It is important to note however that your liability (obligation to pay) for a particular accident is not limited by the amount of your coverage.  In other words, if you have the minimum levels of coverage and then you cause an accident which, because of medical bills, wage loss and pain, gives the other person a claim against you for $35,000.00, your insurance will only pay $25,000.00 on that claim and the other driver may come after you for the rest!  So, in order to protect yourself, we advise that you purchase as much liability coverage as you can afford, and certainly enough to protect your assets from a judgment that is in excess of your coverage limit.  Even a relatively minor accident can result in a claim which has a value that is greater than the minimum coverage limits.

When you buy insurance, we recommend that you discuss coverage limits with your insurance company or agent.  You may find that increasing your limits does not increase your costs as much as you might think and will buy you some piece of mind.  If you have been in a car accident and have any questions about how the various insurance policies will apply to your case, feel free to give a car accident lawyer in Tulsa from our firm a call.  We will be happy to talk to you and try to answer your questions.

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