The Hidden Dangers of “Total”or Comprehensive Coverage
Think you’re covered if you’re injured in a wreck? Think again. Here at Mercado Kramer, our attorneys have taken thousands of calls from people hurt in car wrecks. Sometimes the at-fault driver has no insurance and no money to pay for the injured caller’s medical bills and other losses. We’ve lost count of how often these callers tell us that they themselves have “total,” “full” or “comprehensive car insurance,” thinking their own vehicle insurance will cover their losses. Then we break the bad news: Their insurance company will not pay a penny for their medical bills or lost wages. Total or comprehensive coverage, sometimes called "full" coverage, isn’t comprehensive at all. When busy people on a budget shop for car insurance, it’s no surprise that many select “total” "full" or “comprehensive” coverage. They think they’re protected, and can have peace of mind if they ever get hurt in a wreck. The very name the insurance companies use, total or comprehensive, makes it seem like you’re covered in any situation. But this isn’t the case. Agents who sell insurance often don’t explain the truth clearly.
The "full" coverage typically offered by major insurance companies like Allstate and Progressive provides two things: Liability insurance and protection for your vehicle. "Collision" coverage pays for your vehicle damage no matter how a collision was caused or who was at fault. "Comprehensive" coverage compensates you for damage to your vehicle caused by things other than a collision - such as theft, or a falling tree branch. California law requires you to have liability insurance. If you are in a wreck and found at fault, liability coverage provides money for any damage to other people and their vehicles (but not you and your vehicle). The state minimum insurance amounts are $15,000 per person (no matter how severe their injuries) and $30,000 per accident (even if multiple people are injured). If you’re found at fault and your insurance limits aren’t high enough to cover an injured person’s losses, the injured person may try to go after the additional money from you personally. The state minimum limit for property damage is $5,000 (if you’re found responsible in an accident where a Lamborghini is totaled, your insurance company will only pay $5,000 to cover the loss of the car and you could be ordered by a court to pay the rest out of your own pocket.) Comprehensive and collision coverage provide protection for your own vehicle, no matter the circumstances. Whether you damage your car in a one-car accident, are hit by another driver who has no insurance, or your vehicle is stolen, comprehensive and collision coverage in most cases will provide payment to repair or replace your vehicle. (Again, this coverage is only in the amount you purchased, even if your car is more valuable than that amount.) Comprehensive or total coverage does not provide protection for the most important thing: YOUR BODY AND HEALTH. If you get hit by a driver with no insurance, your total or comprehensive policy does not step in to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There is insurance that can protect you and cover your losses if you’re injured in a wreck, but you must purchase them as part of your insurance policy BEFORE an accident takes place. These are medical payments coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Unfortunately, many people only learn about these options AFTER getting hurt in a wreck, when it’s too late. The good news is that even if you’re hit by an uninsured driver or found at fault, no matter how hopeless your situation seems, it is worth speaking to a qualified attorney. Many people think they have no options to receive payments for their medical bills and injuries. With the right attorney in their corner, many people do eventually receive compensation. And consulting a personal injury attorney should be absolutely free to you. At Mercado Kramer, our personal injury attorneys offer free consults and you don't pay unless we win a settlement or at trial.