Benefits of a Customized Auto Policy

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By Victoria Ostrosky, Insurance Zone

Victoria Photo

Billy always looked forward to Christmas dinner with his family, and the food was worth dreaming about. This year was no different and Uncle Eddie dominated the table conversation.

But that was okay because Uncle Eddie, though quite the talker, was dearly loved. We sat spell-bound as Uncle Eddie regaled us with details of the car accident he had been in earlier this year, and, as he expressed it, “I thought I would die!” Several broken ribs, a broken clavicle, concussion, and almost a week later, he was out of the hospital and back home recuperating.

Uncle Eddie learned a lot about auto insurance in a short period of time. He now believes he can spar with the best insurance agents out there as they throw words around like ‘uninsured motorist’ and ‘personal injury protection’ and more.

To make auto insurance simple, you can think of it as having just two main components. The ‘people protector’ and the ‘vehicle protector’.

In the people protector you have Bodily Injury/Property Damage, Medical Payments, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist.

Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage protects your assets. The more assets you need to protect, the higher the limits should be, with $100K/$300K/$100K our recommended starting point. So, if you slam into a car or cars in front of you as they hit their brakes, your insurance will pay a maximum of $100,000 for each person you injured, subject to a maximum of $300,000 for the accident in total. After that’s depleted, their attorney will come after your bank account, and any other assets you have.

For those with significant assets, an Umbrella policy is recommended for increased protection. In most cases the Umbrella will require minimum underlying Liability limits of $250K/$500K/$100K.

PIP, mandated by Florida, provides medical, disability, and death benefits to you and any passengers in your vehicle. Basic PIP covers up to 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages. For as low as $2 per year, you can purchase Extended PIP which covers up to 100% of your medical expenses and 80% of your lost wages, with a maximum payout available of $10,000. A smart buy!

Medical Payments covers you for any injury sustained in the accident and is usually offered in increments of $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist is critical coverage when you’re involved in an accident that is someone else’s fault and they either don’t have insurance, or not enough limits to take care of your medical costs, which include rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. It’s like having your own Bodily Injury coverage. Although often confusing, we always recommend the Stacked (broader) Option vs, Non-Stacked with limits equal to the Bodily Injury Limits on the policy.

In the vehicle protector of auto insurance you have Comprehensive and Collision, Rental Reimbursement, Roadside Service, Gap Coverage and other options.  The deductibles for Comp and Collision usually range from $250 to $2,500 per claim.

Collision coverage repairs or replaces your vehicle if it collides with another vehicle or stationary object or rolls over. Like when the Michigan slush pulled me off the road into a ditch where I ended upside down hanging by my seatbelt. That’s a collision claim.

Comprehensive coverage repairs or replaces your vehicle for damage sustained from things like fire, theft, falling objects, glass breakage, and more. Almost anything that can happen to your vehicle other than a collision. I once had a customer call to file a claim on their auto policy. I asked them for some particulars. “Well,” they said, “when I woke up this morning and looked out my front window, there was a bear in the bed of my pick-up truck.  He had broken my back window and was destroying my upholstery.” That’s a comp claim. I’m not sure if the adjuster filed it under ‘contact with an animal’ or ‘vandalism’.

One last thing. Many of our customers have golf carts, or LSVs (low speed vehicles).  As long as they’re not rented, they can be written as a separate policy or added to your auto policy if they are licensed for road use. The rental exposure can sometimes be written under a commercial liability policy.

The bottom line is to talk to your agent and get customized auto coverages that fit your personal needs.

Insurance Zone, owned by Joe and Lea Capers, is a full service commercial and personal lines insurance agency with offices on 30A and 98.  Visit their Video Library on www.ins-zone.com and watch an informative video “Auto Insurance Made Easy”, or call 850.424.6979.  Victoria Ostrosky, author of this article is an agent/CSR with IZ.