Tier 1 COLLISION CENTER ASKS AN ATTORNEY: DEALING WITH AUTO INSURANCE
Tier 1 Collision Center is committed to being the best auto body shop in Suffolk County, and we want to help out in every way we can. This week, we wanted to offer up some advice given to us by a local attorney. He is a litigation personal injury and property damage attorney with 10 years of experience. He was nice enough to answer our questions to help give you an idea on what to do if you get into an accident, and tips to be prepared beforehand.
Q1: “WHAT IS ONE THING YOU ENCOUNTER OFTEN THAT YOU WANT THE READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS CONVERSATION?”
A: “I cannot stress this enough, but check your insurance now before you are involved in an accident. Your auto insurance has limits of how much the insurance company is contractually obligated to provide or cover in the case of a loss, and you can contact your insurance agent to ask about raising those limits now, before an accident. Your auto liability insurance policy has separate limits for personal injury and property damage. For example, the state statutorily minimum amount of property damage coverage a person can purchase is $10,000 worth of coverage. However, if you are involved in an accident, for example a rear end chain reaction accident where your car may bump one car and push that car into the car ahead of it, the amount of damage to those vehicle that you might be responsible for could very likely exceed the $10,000. The insurance company is only obligated to cover you up to $10,000, and any amount over that could come from you personally. The best time to address your limits of liability is now, before an accident.”
Q2: “WHAT ABOUT THE LIMITS FOR A PERSONAL INJURY MATTER?”
A: “Those are similar in that the insurance company is obligated to pay only up to the limits. There are several different factors and scenarios that can come into play. The New York State minimum amount of insurance for bodily injury is $25,000 per person and $50,000 total for all people involved in one accident. Medical bills can be expensive and one accident can cause medical bills to another person well in excess of the amount the insurance company is obligated to pay, and you might find yourself personally liable for amounts over those limits. You can increase your limits now to better protect you.”
Q3: “BUT WHAT ABOUT IF YOU ARE THE PERSON INJURED, HOW DOES YOUR INSURANCE POLICY COME INTO PLAY THEN?”
A: “If another person is at fault for your injuries, their limits of insurance will be relevant as to how much insurance coverage there is for your injuries. However, your insurance policy does have options to protect yourself from crippling medical bills in the case of insufficient insurance from an at fault driver. Insurance companies offer both underinsured and uninsured coverage. In the case of underinsured coverage, if the at fault driver has insufficient insurance coverage to pay your medical bills, lost wages, etc., your policy has an option to procure under insurance coverage that will kick in once the limits of insurance of the other driver have been exhausted. This is a way to protect your from other drivers with insufficient insurance. Likewise, your policy may include uninsured motorist coverage, which can provide coverage for your injuries in the case of a driver who has no insurance. The time to check these options out are now, you cannot retroactively go back and add them after an accident.”
Q4: “WHAT OTHER THINGS CAN SOMEONE DO NOW BEFORE AN ACCIDENT?”
A: “Make sure your vehicle is as safe as possible. Most people overlook the fact that you are responsible for the car you are operating. So, for example, if you are driving and your hub cap comes loose and hits another car, you will be liable for any damage done by that hub cap. The driver of a car is deemed to be in control of his vehicle and any part of the car that ultimately causes damage to another car, even if that part comes detached, will be the responsibility of the driver. So make sure to have a certified professional check your vehicle for all aspects of safety routinely.”
Q: “WHAT ARE SOME TIPS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW IF THEY DO GET INTO AN ACCIDENT?”
A: “If you are in the unfortunate circumstance of being involved in an accident, there is a whirlwind going on around you. If you can keep a calm head, that is beneficial. Do not let emotions get the better of you. And take pictures! Use your phone to take pictures of the damage, the position of the cars, the location of landmarks or signs in relation to the cars, etc. basically, anything that can be helpful later when or if a lawsuit arises. Photographs can document things that memories or perceptions can forget. And try to get a police report, their report is vital since that is the first documentation about the accident and comes from an unbiased source.”
Tier 1 Collision Centers of Patchouge is committed to getting you the best repair for your money. We always push the insurance company to let us use OEM (Original Manufacturer Parts) in our repairs, not just the cheapest parts. We want your vehicle to be back to factory specifications, and you can’t do that with aftermarket parts. If you are in an accident in Suffolk County, call us at 631-494-3620 or visit www.tier1collision.com today. You can also come into the shop at 470 Waverly Ave, Patchogue, NY or get an estimate online at www.tier1collision.com/need-estimate. We want to make your experience with Tier 1 Collision Center after an accident as easy as possible.