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Do you have a personal umbrella policy? Do you need one?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Do you have a personal umbrella policy? In fact, have you taken my advice from earlier this year to review your insurance coverages? It is always a good time to consider your personal financial situation and the effect a catastrophic collision would have on your life. It doesn’t matter if you would be the plaintiff or the defendant, it is time to increase your insurance coverages.

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I can’t count how many times folks come into my office and they don’t have sufficient insurance coverage for their case. I spend a lot of time on this blog explaining how much insurance you should have to make sure you are covered in the event of a catastrophic accident. As a personal injury attorney, I feel it is my duty to the community to educate folks about the insurance world and what you should and should not have. I do this because without good insurance coverage, most personal financial situations would be left in ruins if you cause a serious injury to someone or if someone else causes a serious injury to you. In most cases, both a plaintiff and a defendant are relying on insurance to cover injuries.

To that extent, there are two things you can do that will help you before that situation arises.

First, you can and should increase your liability policy limits to at least $100,000/$300,000. That means your insurance company will cover up to the first $100,000 of damages you cause to someone else and up to $300,000 per accident if multiple people are injured. It also means that you will have up to $100,000 in coverage if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you and causes an injury. This may be abbreviated on your policy as UM/UIM coverage.

Often, though, $100,000 is not enough. You should seriously consider increasing your insurance to $250,000/$500,000 to make sure you are sufficiently covered. This underinsured motorist coverage is not about the person who hits you, but its about you and your injuries. You are in the driver seat here. In insufficient coverage cases, Plaintiffs complain that the negligent driver didn’t have enough insurance, but they don’t have enough insurance themselves. In Virginia, your insurance company is required to offer you underinsured coverage up to your liability limits unless you expressly disclaim that coverage. Don’t. You may save a couple bucks a month, but you lose thousands upon thousands of dollars in your personal injury case.

Second, you can and should purchase a personal umbrella policy. Typically, an umbrella policy is excess coverage over and above your liability coverages. It covers things that are over and above your homeowners insurance and your car insurance. In most cases, however, it does not provide coverage for uninsured or underinsured claims unless you specifically purchase that additional coverage. You umbrella policy will likely be at least $1,000,000 and they are usually sold in the million dollar increments. This extra $750,000 in coverage may cost you $20 a month. Well worth the expense in exchange for peace of mind.

If you are confused at all by all these numbers and different types of policies, call your insurance agent or broker and set up an appointment today. You need to understand what your coverages are. If you have questions, feel free to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss it.