At Fault is not always At Fault
Surprisingly there are still a lot of people who believe they don’t need to purchase car insurance because they drive perfectly and their car is paid for. This line of thinking concludes that these drivers will never make a mistake while driving. In the US, if you are going to own or drive a car, the state that you live in is going to require proof that you carry at least the minimum limits of liability before they will issue or renew a tag for your vehicle. First, let’s discuss what liability insurance is.
There are two types of liability insurance in the auto policy; bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury liability insurance helps pay for injuries you cause to another person or persons in an at-fault accident. Property damage liability pay for damages you cause to another person’s property in an at-fault accident. The key word in these last two sentences is HELPS. If you are not carrying enough liability insurance at the time of your at-fault accident, you are going to have to pay the difference yourself. With those people driving a 20 year old vehicle and carrying only the minimum limits, it’s doubtful there will be anything available out of pocket. Many drivers believe that since they have been driving many years, they’re good drivers and there is no way they will be in an at-fault accident. Okay, but you don’t have to be at-fault to be “at-fault”.
For example, you are driving down a two lane road minding your own business, very alert and your cell phone is turned off. The little old lady in front of you, who can barely see over her steering wheel, suddenly spots a cute little rabbit scamper across the road and slams on the brakes. You slam on your brakes instantly but are unable to avoid ramming the rear of her brand new Mercedes. Are you at fault? Probably not. Will you be charged for the accident? Yes. In this scenario the little old lady’s air bag deployed instantly smashing her face and breaking her jaw. She is rushed to the ER via helicopter and admitted into the hospital with a serious facial fracture. After 4 days in the hospital, the emergency helicopter ride, the emergency room expenses, the diagnostic tests and the Specialist’s fees, you owe about $30,000 for that at-fault accident and an additional $10,000 to repair her Mercedes. The problem is that you live in Florida where the minimum bodily injury liability limits are $10,000 and that is what you carry.
Since you do have $10,000 in property damage liability (the state minimum) you are only going to come out of pocket $20,000. Unfortunately, you soon learn that the little old lady’s son is a personal injury attorney and she is suing you for pain and suffering. Now do you get it? It wasn’t your fault; she slammed on brakes for a rabbit and caused the accident but, YOU GOT THE TICKET!
Before you select the lowest limits in order to save a few dollars, ask your agent how much the higher limits are. You will be surprised that for only $10 more per month you can get at least adequate limits that will help keep you out of trouble. It’s the right thing to do.