Peter W. Summerill

Utah Trial Attorney

The Right Auto Insurance Coverage

Coverage for Injury Or Death In Car Crashes

Often people buy auto insurance coverage thinking that the amount of coverage is only in case they cause a crash. But, making sure you have the right coverage on your policy actually benefits YOU. When it comes to personal injury or death because of a car crash, there are several coverages on your insurance policy that you need to think about, before the crash happens. First, the liability coverage protects you against claims when you cause the crash. But, what if somebody who crashes into you has only the bare minimum, or worse, no coverage at all? In Utah the minimum liability coverage is $25,000. That amount can quickly be used up in a case of a severe crash and, if there are passengers in your vehicle, the total available insurance from the negligent driver might be a paltry $50,000…. for everyone in your vehicle. Imagine you, your family members or friends, get t-boned by a drunk at an intersection and all of you end up in the hospital. That $50,000 will go away in a hurry and might not even cover your medical expenses, let alone your pain and suffering and lost wages.

Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage for Personal Injury or Death in a Car Crash.

Thankfully, Utah law requires that all auto insurance have minimum Underinsured (often called UI) and Uninsured (often called UIM) coverages that equal your liability coverage amount. UM/UIM coverages pay you for damages (including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and wrongful death among other things). To make sure you have that coverage:

  • Make sure you do not sign a waiver when you get your auto insurance that eliminates the coverage. If you already signed a waiver, get with your insurance company and get it reinstated.
  • Next, make sure that you have the maximum available. By law, the UM/UIM coverage must be equal to your liability coverage. But, the bare minimum liability coverage in Utah for personal injury is $25,000. So, you'll want to step up to as much coverage as you can afford and is available. Typically this amount is $300,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.

Personal Injury Protection in a Car Crash

Some insurance agents and insurance companies may try to sell you higher limits for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) which is sometimes called No-Fault protection. The minimum under Utah law is $3,000. That amount covers your medical expenses/lost income without regard to fault and operates almost automatically. However, it is best to NOT increase your PIP coverage. Although PIP pays if even if you are at fault, ti also pays when you are not at fault and is considered primary coverage. Trouble begins when there are high amounts of PIP coverage and your own insurance company starts questioning whether the treatments and care recommended by your doctor are really necessary. Auto insurance companies that provide high PIP coverage to their insureds may even require you to go through a so-called "independent" medical exam by a doctor of their choosing. The sole goal of that examination is to set up a case to stop payment of PIP coverage. This also works against you if you bring a claim against the other driver who caused the crash and all of your injuries and lost income. Now, there is an exam from a so-called "independent" medical examiner that says you really aren't hurt that bad after all. Not a good position to be in when you try to bring a claim against the other car that caused the whole mess. It is much better to use the minimum PIP coverage and let your health insurance cover anything over the $3,000 PIP payment.

In summary, to make sure you are adequately protected for harm, pain, suffering, lost income and medical expenses in a car crash, max out your Liability/UM/UIM coverages and keep your PIP coverage at the minimum.