Posted August 25, 2009 10:38pm by attorney Alexandra Filutowski
Know the law.
Washington State law requires drivers to carry liability coverage, at a minimum. RCW 46.30.020 and RCW 46.29.090(1), requires that every driver within the state of Washington carry at least $25,000.00/$50,000.00/$10,000.00 in liability coverage.
The first two numbers correspond to bodily injury ("BI") - i.e. if you cause an accident, your insurance will pay to the other person(s) up to $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per accident. If there are two or more people injured, the available $50,000.00 will be apportioned among them.
The third number is property damage ("PD") coverage. Washington law requires that you carry at least a $10,000.00 limit, which is the maximum amount that will be paid for damaging another's vehicle.
Assess your net worth.
In selecting the appropriate liability coverage for your car, you need to consider the size of your income, the value of your home, your car and additional assets. The higher your personal net worth, the more liability coverage you should purchase to protect yourself from personal liability. Washington State bodily injury policies range from $25,000.00/$50,000.00 to $300,000.00/$500,000.00.
If you fail to purchase adequate liability coverage, you expose yourself to personal liability for causing the accident and a traffic citation. That means that the injured party can garnish your wages, force a sale of your car, home and other assets. Nobody wants to go through this uncomfortable process.
So, make it easy for yourself and others, follow the law and at least purchase the minimum liability coverage.
Protect yourself against accruing medical bills.
If you are the victim of a car accident, pedestrian-car accident, bike-car accident - your PIP will *automatically* cover your medical bills! No deductible, no contracted rate 50/50, 80/20, like with health insurance.
PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection. This
coverage is *optional*, although *essential* if you want to have your medical bills, out of pocket expenses and lost wages covered adequately and immediately following the accident. PIP limits range from $10,000.00 to 35,000.00
Since PIP is so strongly encouraged - in Washington you must affirmatively *opt-out* of buying PIP. Once you opt-out, if you decide you do want PIP, you must then affirmatively opt-in.
If you've been insured with the same insurance company for years - and don't recall if you opted-out - call your agent today! Ask for the PIP waiver, if any. Then buy some PIP and be protected today!
Insure against serious personal loss.
Each day you step out onto the roadways - you subject yourself to the mercy of others' driving abilities. What happens when the person who causes the accident either has 1) no insurance! or 2) minimal coverage? You should consider insuring yourself against this situation by purchasing under-insured (UIM) and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Again, for a few extra dollars every month, you can insure against serious loss. Policy limits range from $25,000.00 to $500,000.00.
UM/UIM coverage provides payment for your pain and suffering and medical bills incurred as a result of someone else causing an accident.
UM applies when the negligent driver has NO insurance.
UIM applies when the negligent driver's limits have been exhausted. E.g. if the negligent driver carries a minimum limits policy (25/50/10), and you collect the full $25,000.00, but your claim is valued well in excess of $25,000.00 - then your UIM coverage will apply.
Read the declarations page.
Now that you've selected the types of insurance coverage you want, review your declarations page to ensure you and your vehicle(s) are fully covered.
Additional resources provided by the author
The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC blog entry: http://www.filutowskilaw.com/?p=114