Carrying adequate car insurance is a serious issue for drivers. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, there were 29,188 car crashes in Des Moines between 2004 and 2008. These accidents can result in serious injuries, property damage and high costs. By carrying adequate protection, including uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, medical payment coverage and GAP insurance, drivers can plan for both foreseen and unforeseen accident costs.
Four Types of Optional Car Insurance Coverage
While most drivers carry liability insurance to protect them if they cause an accident – it's required by Iowa law – there are four different types of insurance that drivers might not be aware of. But they're important and can help when victims suffer injuries or damages in an accident.
It's important to consider this insurance along with liability insurance because a car accident can lead to financial burdens. Medical bills, even for common injuries like broken bones, can run into the thousands of dollars. Carrying these insurances can help drivers avoid that costly bill and hit to their personal wealth.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Uninsured motorist coverage protects the policyholder in the event he or she is in an accident with an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver. The insurance pays the policyholder for medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other expenses up to the coverage limits. Uninsured motorist insurance covers damages according to the policyholder's proportion of fault. For example, if a policyholder was 15 percent at fault in a $100,000 damages case, the insurance would pay $85,000.
The Insurance Research Council estimates that in 2009, 11 percent of Iowa drivers were without insurance, so there's a risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Underinsured motorist coverage protects drivers if they're in an accident, and the at-fault driver's liability insurance doesn't cover the costs of the accident. The minimum liability insurance required to drive in Iowa has a coverage limit of $20,000 for injuries to one person, $40,000 for injuries in a single accident and $15,000 for property damage. In serious accidents, the costs to the not-at-fault driver can quickly rise above these minimums.
Medical Payments Coverage: Medical payments coverage covers medical expenses for everyone in the car and covers the policyholder in other situations as well, regardless of fault in the accident. For many people, medical payments coverage can seem redundant because they have health insurance, but the insurance can pay for expenses above the health insurance. For example, health insurance might require a deductible and co-pays. Medical payments coverage can help meet these costs.
GAP Insurance: GAP stands for general auto protection, and it covers the difference between the market value of a car and the amount the policyholder owes to the finance company. If a car is totaled, liability insurance only pays the market value of the car. For people who drive a lot, have no down payment or drive a highly depreciating car, this coverage can be important after an accident.
Iowa Insurance Requirements
According to the law, all insurance companies that offer liability insurance are required to offer uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage. Drivers have to sign a waiver explaining that they want to opt out of the coverage if that's their desire. There are no requirement to offer medical payments and GAP insurance, but many insurance companies have those policies.
Legal Options after Car Accidents
Iowa is a fault insurance state. After a car accident, drivers may be able to file a claim with their insurance company if they have the right coverage and file a claim with the other driver's liability insurance company.
Drivers in serious accidents in Des Moines can consult an attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair to discuss their eligibility to recover damages from the other driver. Contact our office at 888-435-9886 to speak with a lawyer today.