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When Choosing Auto Insurance, You're in the Driver's Seat!

By: Attorney Jed S. Kadish
A New Jersey resident inquires about insurance, and says, “I want full coverage for the least amount of money.” The customer is given a quote for full insurance coverage.

What is “full” coverage? Does full coverage protect you and your family? Unless you understand what coverage your insurance policy provides, the answer to that question may be an emphatic NO! When most consumers think about “full” coverage, they probably are thinking about their liability coverage. This coverage pays OTHERS for damages from an auto accident that you cause. There are two kinds of liability coverage; bodily injury and property damage. The higher the coverage, the more you and your assets are protected. Bodily injury coverage is available from $15,000-$500,000. The more you purchase, the more you protect yourself and your assets in the event of an auto accident, now and in the future. As a personal injury attorney, it is my belief is everyone should have a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage.

However, liability coverage for an auto accident is only part of the equation. The following coverage must be considered to fully protect you and your family.

JUST SAY NO!

Each consumer is required to select between No Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold or Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold. You should select No Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold or what is commonly stated as Zero Threshold. Under this option, you only need to prove that you or a family member has suffered a bodily injury that was proximately caused by the auto accident in order to be compensated for your pain and suffering.

The other option offered is the Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold. In order to receive compensation for your pain and suffering from an auto accident, you must sustain bodily injury that results in one of the following: loss of a body part; significant disfigurement or significant scarring, displaced fracture; loss of fetus, death or a permanent injury. (An injury shall be considered permanent when the body part or organ, or both, has not healed to function normally and will not heal to function normally with further medical treatment.)

Under Limitation of Lawsuit Threshold, the permanent injury must be proven by objective medical evidence, which includes medical testing along with a series of other requirements. However, it is enough to know that the Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold makes it extremely difficult to obtain compensation for your auto accident related injuries.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage

Whenever you are involved in a auto accident your car insurance will pay for your accident related medical bills unless you have selected healthcare primary. A standard policy in New Jersey allows for $250,000 in coverage. You can increase this coverage, but you should not reduce this coverage below $250,000.00.

UM/UIM

The third important part of your policy involves what is known as Uninsured Motorist Coverage. If you are involved in an auto accident with someone who is uninsured, then you may make a claim against your own policy. The minimum coverage in New Jersey is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. $15,000 is insufficient coverage for you and your family should you suffer serious injuries from an uninsured motorist. You should have the maximum protection allowable provided by your carrier for this coverage.

Another aspect of this coverage has to do with underinsured motorist protection(UIM). If you are injured in a auto accident with someone who has minimal insurance coverage, you may make a claim against your own policy. In order to do so, your underinsured motorist coverage must exceed that of the offending driver in the underlying claim. Moreover, the value of your injuries must exceed the offending driver’s coverage.

As an attorney, I have represented too many clients who did not understand the coverage they were purchasing. As a result, when they were involved in auto accidents, they and/or their family members were not fully protected and did not receive full compensation for their injuries. Don’t make the same mistake. Understanding the coverage provided by your motor vehicle policy is imperative. If you don’t understand your coverage, you won’t be able to ask the right questions to create the policy that fully protects your family.

An informed consumer is a wise consumer.

Attorney Jed Kadish is a partner with Pellettieri, Rabstein and Altman who specializes in Personal Injury matters including auto, construction and product liability accident cases. Mr. Kadish also handles many Municipal Court cases for his clients. For more information, or for a complimentary consultation regarding a personal injury case, please contact Mr. Kadish directly at (609) 520-0900, ext. 2231

Founded in 1929, Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman is now ranked as one of the largest law firms in New Jersey by New Jersey Business magazine, and is home to a number of attorneys considered among the best lawyers in New Jersey as well as SuperLawyers by New Jersey Monthly. Through the years, Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman has won tens of millions of dollars for thousands of clients, and has become known as a champion of union rights, patient rights, spousal rights, environmental rights, civil rights, and entrepreneur, small business and consumer rights through its work winning significant claim settlements, trial verdicts and landmark judicial decisions in New Jersey and federal courts. The firm maintains offices in Princeton, Mount Holly and Nutley, N.J.

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