Kansas has a “no-fault” personal injury protection law for car accidents. This means that preliminary medical expenses, of at least $4,500, will be covered by your own insurance company, as a benefit on your policy. But what happens if your hospital bills exceed not only your PIP coverage but also the protection offered by the policy of the other motorist?
You might be left with medical expenses!
Insurance companies don’t want to pay the rightful compensation, and may even try to get out of covering the claim all together. But even if you were to assume that the coverage provider will play fair, the compensation you receive will be limited by the maximum liability coverage offered by the policy of the other motorist. For example, if the other driver carries the minimum auto coverage required in Kansas, you are looking at a maximum of $25,000 in compensation.
What if the insurance payout of the other motorist is not enough?
You might plan to sue him/her personally for damages. However, if this individual does not have any financial assets or only has limited assets, chances are that you may not recover the compensation you need.
Fortunately, all is not lost! Kansas laws have already provided for such situations by including uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage in the mandatory insurance required for all motorists. But there is a catch!
The Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist part of your auto coverage can come to your rescue!
Depending on the seriousness of your injuries, your medical bills may go several thousand dollars over the what the PIP and liability coverage offers. But you can seek additional compensation from your own insurance company if you have purchased additional UM/UIM coverage beyond the minimum required.
The best part is that making such a claim will not impact your premiums in the future. This is because you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, but was caused by another driver. Insurance rates generally go up if you cause a collision. The UM/UIM claim can get you another $25,000 or even more, depending on the extent of your injuries and your UM/UIM coverage limit.
What about the extra cost of UIM coverage?
If you consider the peace of mind that this type of insurance offers every time you are on the road, the addition to your premium for the extra coverage is well worth the cost. The good news is that the increase in cost is usually quite modest, even when you opt for two or even four times the mandatory minimum UM/UIM coverage.
Basic UM/UIM coverage ($25,000/$50,000) generally costs between $35 and $75 per year and is generally about 5% to 10% of the total premium. Increasing coverage to $50,000/$100,000, will raise the cost to somewhere between $50 and $100 for the UM/UIM portion of the policy, and purchasing coverage that is 4x the minimum is generally around $75 to $150.
Why does it make sense to carry more than the legally required UM/UIM coverage?
1. Dealing with car accident injuries is expensive: On an average, medical expenses for injuries sustained in automobile accidents are in the vicinity of $55,000 to $65,000. If the other motorist is carrying the minimum required liability coverage, you will only be able to recoup $25,000 from his insurance company. This would still leave you on the hook for the difference.
2. The prospects get worse if there are passengers in the vehicle: The minimum liability insurance required in Kansas is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This is the upper limit of the compensation that you can receive. This means that if you were the only person in the car at the time of the accident, you will get no more than $25,000. If you had one passenger along, each of you would get $25,000 and no more.
But if there were 3 occupants in the vehicle and all of them were hurt, the $50,000 would get divided three ways. Each person would get less than $20,000. Unless you have thousands of dollars in spare change, the only way you would be able to make up for the difference without significant financial burden is if you have more than the minimum required UM/UIM coverage.
3. There is no set definition of what qualifies as underinsured: In Kansas, policy limits are compared with each other to determine if you are eligible to file a claim for UIM coverage. You can only claim damages if your UM/UIM coverage is higher than the liability coverage of the other motorist.
For instance, if both the motorists have only the legally required insurance, then both the liability limit of the other motorist and your own UM/UIM limit is $25,000. In this case, you only get the $25,000 from the other motorist’s policy, even if your medical expenses are $50,000.
However, if you have UM/UIM coverage of $50,000, you can recoup $25,000 from the liability coverage of the other motorist and $25,000 from your own insurance company under your UM/UIM coverage.
4. You are covered if the other motorist is uninsured or truly underinsured: Thirteen states have lower liability insurance requirements than Kansas, including neighboring Iowa. If the other motorist in the accident is from one of these states, you stand to get less than $25,000 in bodily injury coverage. But the UM/UIM part of your auto insurance can be used to recover the difference. Additionally, to get to the average cost of hospitalization of $60,000, you will need more than the mandatory $25,000 UM/UIM coverage.
A reality check that will convince you!
Over 7% of motorists on the roads of Kansas continue to drive around uninsured and an increasing number are settling for the minimum required insurance. There is a very high likelihood of being in an accident with a motorist who has no coverage or only minimum coverage.
If the crash leads to serious injuries, you may not receive enough compensation to cover your hospital bills. However, a few dollars more each month can safeguard your interests and save you from an extremely damaging financial situation.
With all this said, navigating the landscape of insurance claims is never an easy task. Whether you are seeking compensation from your own insurance provider or that of the other motorist, insurance companies thrive by not paying you full compensation.
At DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers, we have handled thousands of cases involving UM/UIM claims. We will make sure that your rights are protected. Our experienced lawyers know what it takes to compel insurance companies to treat you fairly. Contact us today and let us handle the insurance company, so you can concentrate on your recovery!