From the desk of Barrie E. Bazarsky, Esq.
In a previous blog, I mentioned automobile insurance coverage. When I give seminars, I usually include this topic. This is an important topic I discuss with my clients. Why? Because all motor vehicle owners must have insurance, but not many people know what they are buying.
Insurance company commercials only speak about cost – but you buy insurance to protect your assets and your PERSON. Oftentimes “cheap is dear.”
I am not an insurance agent, but after practicing plaintiff’s personal injury law for over 30 years, I know the impact your coverage can and will have should you be involved in a car accident.
Insurance agents or brokers (and there is a difference) do NOT have a fiduciary relationship with you. If they fail to suggest the proper coverage, you cannot sue them successfully. The only lawsuit you can win against them is to tell them to buy you something and fail to do so.
What does this mean? It means it is up to you (the insured) to secure the proper coverage.
So, when you buy car insurance, you buy multiple insurance coverages – no-fault, property damage, bodily injury, SUM, and each category has nuances and impacts.
Today, we will discuss no-fault
New York State is a “no-fault state.” That means that regardless of how a motor vehicle accident occurs, your medical bills, time out of work, and transportation expenses are paid by the car you are in. There are some exceptions to this. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist, no fault is covered by the vehicle that hits you. If you are a motorcyclist, no-fault does not apply.
The mandatory minimum coverage for medical bills under no fault is $50,000, called PIP (personal injury protection). There are also ways to enhance this coverage, and I believe you should do so. I am happy to discuss the mechanisms to increase your policy. Not only is it valuable to you and others in your vehicle, but should you be in a situation where you are under someone else’s no-fault, you can access the additional coverage.
In the event of a car accident, the no-fault carrier, at some point, will have you examined by their doctors, one doctor for each category of treatment. They determine if you get to continue to treat under no-fault or if you “have reached maximum medical improvement,” have recovered, maxed out on your coverage. Your personal injury attorney should discuss the details of what will occur prior to your exams. If you fail to attend the examination, all no-fault will be terminated for your failure to comply.
The mandatory minimum lost wage coverage is $2,000 per month. You can also buy additional coverage here, and you should if you earn more than this amount. Otherwise, you may be in financial trouble if a severe accident has you out of work for any period. You must prove disability, and the carrier will confirm your employment and earnings with your employer before payment is made.
Encompassed within no fault is coverage for daily expenses. You must keep a list of mileage to doctor’s offices, along with dates and receipts for any other out-of-pocket expenses and submit them to no fault periodically. There are other expenses that may be covered as well.
Again, your personal injury attorney should guide you throughout this process. If they say, “I don’t handle no-fault,” I suggest you get a new attorney.
Insurance coverage will continue my next blog, but as you can see it is a complicated matter.
Feel free to contact me at my office at 631-979-4300.
Remember, consultations are free.
All advice is pursuant to the law of the State of New York.