If you have car insurance, you may think you’ll be taken care of in case of an accident, but the reality is the specifics of your coverage may mean that your medical bills, lost wages, physical and emotional pain, won’t be covered — or you’ll have to fight an insurance company to get what you paid for.
That’s why people who get the most from insurance companies tend to be the ones who hire lawyers to deal with insurance.
“Our law firm represents people who are injured, often seriously or catastrophically,” says Tyrone Maho of Maho Prentice, LLP. “And as a result, we’re trying to maximize compensation for their injuries and their suffering.”
That maximum may come from looking at multiple insurance policies when you’ve been injured by someone else.
“We look at the person responsible for the accident, the car they were driving, and their insurance policy,” Maho says. “And then, as a backup, we look at our client’s own policy, and see if they’re adequately insured in case the responsible driver doesn’t have enough insurance.
“We also investigate whether the accident was work-related, as business auto policies can often be a major source of compensation for our clients.”
Unfortunately, it often happens that the person at fault in an accident is either uninsured or underinsured, which means you won’t get the full compensation from an insurance company that you need to pay for any injuries. Fortunately, you can plan now to be covered in case of an accident.
From left, attorneys Jessica Phillips, Chad Prentice, Tyrone Maho, and Samantha Baldwin.
“You can’t control who hits you or causes you injury while driving, or if they have enough insurance, but you can control what you have for uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage,” Maho says.
It may sound incredible, but 12.6% of drivers in the country — about one in eight — do not have insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council. That number is even higher in California, where 16.6% of drivers, or one in six, have no car insurance.
On top of that, many California drivers only have the minimum state required insurance coverage of $15,000 for a single injury or death.
This minimum, established in 1974, hasn’t increased in 47 years, and often is not enough to pay for all hospital bills, ongoing treatment, and damages resulting from an accident.
“We’re finding that auto insurance companies often do not explain what uninsured and underinsured motorist protection is, and how inexpensive it is to maximize one’s coverage in this area,” Maho says. “So many folks believe they have ‘full coverage,’ when they really don’t.”
Unfortunately, once a car accident has happened with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it’s too late to increase your coverage for that accident, and you could end up paying out of pocket, even when the accident was not your fault.
“Most people don’t know that uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that the other driver who causes you injury doesn’t have enough insurance,” Maho says. “It supplements what the other person has.”
If you aren’t sure what your policy includes, you can look at your insurance coverage summary page to see how much uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage you have. If it’s unclear, you can contact your insurance agent to ask what your coverage is and to ask to raise it.
“What we’re telling people is that before an accident, know what your policy is, and maximize the uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage before it’s too late, before you need it,” Maho says.
You can learn more about what your car insurance covers at a free half-hour Zoom seminar, “A scary truth: Does your auto insurance actually protect you?” hosted by the law offices of Maho & Prentice on Nov. 16 from 9 to 9:30 a.m.
The free Zoom link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84093613054?pwd=R3hjZnFOYTFsTG12S0hOZjMvUGJhQT09
For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an attorney, visit Maho Prentice, LLP.