Richard L. Tousignant
Insurance is what you purchase to protect yourself and your family from unexpected disasters. When purchasing this protection, you should consider who you want to protect. All Minnesota policies include Liability, Uninsured, Underinsured and Personal Injury Protection.
Liability coverage protects your and your family’s assets from a complete stranger. For example, if you or your family member causes a collision, your Liability coverage protects your and your family’s assets from the other person’s claim for damages. Uninsured, Underinsured and Personal Injury Protection cover you and your family. Uninsured coverage protects you and your family from drivers with no insurance. Underinsured coverage protects you and your family from drivers with too little insurance. Personal Injury Protection provides limited protections to you and your family regardless of who causes the collision.
With this in mind, you should buy the protection for you and your family. Buy the maximum in uninsured and underinsured coverage. If an uninsured or underinsured motorist seriously injures you or a member of your family, your own insurance company will pay damages up to their policy limits. Generally, the Liability coverage amount will mirror the amounts purchased in the Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage.
Beware, however, because some insurance companies will sell you a $100,000 Liability policy to protect a complete stranger and only $25,000 in Uninsured and Underinsured protections for you and your family. That makes no sense. Why would you protect a stranger ahead of your family? The better question is, why would the insurance company even offer the lower coverage for Uninsured and Underinsured coverage? Outsmart the insurance companies by protecting yourself and your family with the right amount of Uninsured and Underinsured coverage.
In Minnesota, we all get the added benefit of Personal Injury Protection (PIP). The benefit follows you so even if you are not in Minnesota or in your car you still get PIP benefits as long as a motor vehicle caused the injury. The minimum requirements are $20,000 in medical coverage and $20,000 in wage loss protection and replacement services. Any time you are in a car crash or hit by a car as a pedestrian or a bicyclist, your Personal Injury Protection will come into play. The first $20,000 of medical bills will be paid by your own car insurance carrier and the remaining bills will then be paid by your health insurance carrier.
Wage loss is paid at 85% of your loss, with a maximum of $500 per week. Replacement services apply when you are unable to take care of your household. You do not have to hire someone to do the work. The issue is whether you are personally unable to do those chores. If your doctor disables you from household chores, you are entitled up to $200 per week.
If you have more than one vehicle in your household, you should “stack” your PIP coverage. “Stacking” multiplies your benefits by the number of vehicles you decide to stack. For example, if you stack your PIP benefits with three motor vehicles, you have $60,000 in medical expense benefits and $60,000 in wage loss and replacement services benefits. The weekly wage loss remains capped at 85% of your weekly wages, but the amount is now capped at $1500. It is surprisingly inexpensive to stack motor vehicle coverage, and remember – this coverage protects you and your family regardless of who causes the collision.
If you have a large family or if you believe, you are exposed to a higher risk of serious injury, such as a motorcycle rider or other activity, then you may also want to consider an Umbrella policy that includes Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverages. Not all insurance companies sell Umbrellas that contain Uninsured and Underinsured coverage. For the ones that do, it is surprisingly inexpensive to have that coverage added to an Umbrella policy.
If you ride a motorcycle, many insurers will exclude all Uninsured, Underinsured, and PIP benefits if you are injured while riding your motorcycle. Don’t let that happen to you or your family – they depend on you. Make certain, and in writing, that all of your coverages apply while you are riding your motorcycle.
Umbrella coverage goes on top of the Uninsured and Underinsured coverage already purchased from the company. In other words, if you purchased a $1,000,000 Umbrella policy with 250/500 Uninsured and Underinsured coverage, then your available Uninsured and Underinsured coverage would be $1,250,000.
One concern you might have is, “How much is all of this going to cost me?” It can be surprisingly affordable to buy additional coverage over and above the minimum state requirements. In most cases, the yearly premium is less than $50.00.
With this information in mind, please consider contacting your insurance agent to adjust your coverage to protect yourself and your family. I am also attaching a checklist that you can use to ensure that you are getting the best possible coverage for your family.
If you have any questions about insurance coverage, simply call and talk to any of our lawyers or legal assistants.
Attorney at Law
Schwebel Goetz and Sieben
5120 IDS Center
Minneapolis, MN 55402