It’s important to understand your auto insurance policy. However, these policies seem like they’re almost designed to be confusing. In this article we go over the very basics of auto insurance.
KNOW YOUR POLICY: WHAT’S IN YOUR GLOVEBOX?
Do you really know what’s in your auto insurance policy? You may think you have “full coverage,” but after a crash, too many injured New Mexicans find out the hard way that “full” doesn’t mean what they thought it meant. Luckily, the insurance coverage experts at Roadrunner Law Firm are here to help you make sense of your auto policy.
WHAT IS “MINIMAL” LIABILITY INSURANCE?
In the State of New Mexico, all vehicles are required to carry at least a minimal level of coverage to pay for damages when a driver causes an accident. This is called “liability coverage.” In New Mexico, the state minimum liability coverage is $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per accident. This means that the most a driver’s auto policy will pay is $50,000.00 to any number people injured in a crash caused by that driver, even if the accident involves multiple cars and dozens of injured parties. If one person is injured, the most they can recover is $25,000.00.
WHAT IS UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE?
If you have been hurt by a driver who is either uninsured OR a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to fully pay for your damages, your own auto policy can step in to help compensate you. This coverage is called uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage. In New Mexico, you are not required to carry this coverage on your auto policy, but if you don’t want it, you have to reject this coverage in writing.
We cannot stress enough how important this coverage is. In New Mexico, we have one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers on our roads. If you are hurt by an uninsured driver, and you don’t carry uninsured motorist coverage on your own auto policy, you are out of luck—there will just be no way to get money to help you put the pieces back together after a bad wreck. To learn more about Uninsured Motorist Coverage specifically, check out our prior blog about it or our video.
WHAT IS COLLISION AND COMPREHENSIVE?
This is what “full coverage” means in insurance industry language. Collision and Comprehensive coverage protect your car. Collision coverage is for getting your car fixed or paid off when you’re in an accident—whether you’re at fault or not. When you use your collision coverage, you will have to pay a DEDUCTIBLE.
Comprehensive is for other kinds of damage to your car (not a car crash). So in the event of hail, fire, or theft, comprehensive coverage steps in to pay for the damage or loss. Again, if you use your comprehensive coverage, you will have to pay a DEDUCTIBLE. For more information about dealing with your property damage claim, please reference our video.
We recommend that you spend some time to understand your auto insurance. Typically, collision and comprehensive are a package deal (if you have one, you have both), and these are often only carried on higher value or newer vehicles. The most important coverage you need to look for is UNINSURED MOTORIST. If you don’t see it listed in your policy, you may have inadvertently rejected it. Contact an agent or representative at your insurance company to add it.
WE ARE THE EXPERTS IN INSURANCE COVERAGE
The attorneys at Roadrunner Law Firm focus their practice on auto collisions and auto insurance law. If you’re unsure about what’s in your policy, let’s take a look. Give us a call to set up a free, 15 minute consultation so you can understand your auto insurance policy. The consultation is no-obligation and free of charge. We’ve seen firsthand the effects that having the wrong coverages can have after a catastrophic loss or wrongful death, and we want to do our part to make sure you have the biggest security blanket possible when you’re out on the road.
This article was written by Heather Hansen. Heather is a founding partner and attorney at Roadrunner Law Firm.