Guide to Buying Car Insurance
Let me start by asking about our state's mandatory insurance laws.
Barry: If you own a car in the state of Illinois, you are required to have auto insurance. Now, what you're required to have is liability insurance that provides for coverage for $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury claims, and $15,000 for property damage claims. It's really not very much coverage, but I really do believe that having insurance like you're required to do is the right thing to do. There are also some fairly stiff penalties that are associated with not carrying liability insurance the way that you're required to. The penalties get progressively worse each time you get caught without having the insurance that you're really required. I really need to encourage people to carry the liability insurance that you're required to have.
Pam: Besides the minimum, what else do you recommend?
Barry: Well to begin with, I always recommend that people carry higher limits of liability coverage consistent with what your family's finances are. In addition, there are three particular kinds of coverage which you really should have to make sure that you are protecting your family in the event that an accident happens. These are uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and medical expense coverage. These are coverages you get when you have full coverage on your car. Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in and covers you when you're involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, with a hit and run driver, or if you are involved in an accident in a no fault state where you're below the no fault threshold. Underinsured motorist coverage kicks in and provides you with coverage when you are involved in an accident with somebody who doesn't have enough insurance coverage to provide you with compensation for the injuries that you actually suffered. Medical expense coverage is a no fault coverage. It doesn't matter if anybody is to blame for an accident that you're involved in. What it does is, it pays your medical bills up to whatever the limits are, regardless of how the accident occurred. It would cover you for example, if you fell asleep behind the wheel and ran into a tree.
Pam: Last question, how do you choose which company to go with?
Barry: Well to start with, I always tend to believe that the companies that are advertising instant insurance over the phone, on TV, during daytime TV commercials is usually a bad idea. Typically, these are what are called substandard carriers and virtually no one has a good experience in dealing with these kinds of companies. Typically, they will write policies just for the state minimum and nothing more.
Beyond that, if you're ready to be able to do some research, it certainly is helpful to go to the Illinois Department of Insurance's website. They actually publish statistics on complaint ratios which show which carriers get the highest number of complaints given the size of the carrier. What I would encourage people to look for are companies that have relatively low complaint ratios. Most often you'll be able to find that you can get quality coverage from companies that have relatively low complaint ratios, which can provide you with a satisfactory kind of experience.
The thing that I found most recently is that most of the popular mainline auto insurance carriers, your Allstates, your State Farms and so forth tend to be fairly aggressive in defending claims and a lot of times, having Allstate or State Farm really is an invitation for being sued, because lawyers who are in my position are very quickly filing lawsuits just because our experiences in dealing with those kinds of carriers is so often just so negative that we've come to believe that trying to settle a case with Allstate or State Farm in a reasonable kind of way is a wasted venture. We just put the case in the suit and get things moving along.
If you can avoid the mainline auto carriers, you may have a better experience with some of these carriers who may not be quite as large, but who have these low complaint ratio that you find on the Illinois Department of Insurance website.
Pam: Thanks Barry. This has been Fighting for What's Right with personal injury attorney, Barry Doyle. For more videos and information, visit us on our website at fightingforwhats.com. Like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.