If you have been in a car accident recently, you may have realized you are unsure of exactly what type of auto insurance coverage you have. Or, if you are in the process of purchasing car insurance, you may not be entirely clear about what type of insurance you need, and what Alabama’s mandatory minimums are. Although the law is clear in Alabama that all drivers must have liability insurance to drive, estimates place the number of Alabama residents who don’t have auto insurance at 22 percent—one of the worst rates in the nation. When an uninsured or underinsured driver hits another driver, (and that driver does not carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on their own policy) the results can be grim.
Suppose you are the driver, who, through no fault of your own, now has a smashed-up car, or no car at all, if you are unable to pay out of your own pocket for car repairs. You can imagine how terrible this could be if you use your car as a means of getting to and from work like most Americans. The legislators are aware there is a problem in the state of Alabama—one legislator noted that the problem is having a penalty strong enough to make people get insurance but not so harsh it keeps them from driving altogether. Although drivers in Alabama do not have to prove they have auto insurance in order to register their vehicle, if stopped by an Alabama police officer, an inability to prove insurance can result in fines as large as $1,000, a six-month suspension of your driver’s license, or both.
State insurance laws generally fall under fault or no-fault types. Alabama is a fault state when it comes to car accidents, meaning the fault of the drivers involved in the car collision will affect how compensation is paid to those who are injured or whose property is damaged. In a no-fault state, the driver also has several options for proceeding with a claim following an accident. A claim can be filed with the driver’s own insurance, with the other driver’s insurance, or by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. In a no-fault state, drivers will file with their own insurance carrier regardless of who was at fault.
All states set minimum requirements for liability car insurance, which pays medical expenses, damages to property and other costs in an accident if you are found to be at fault. The minimum liability requirements in the state of Alabama are:
As noted, liability is legally required in most states, and will pay for property damage, medical care and lost wages for other drivers and passengers, in the event of an accident which is your fault. If you are able to afford better liability coverage than is required under Alabama state law, do so. Having extra coverage provides protection in the event you are found at fault for an accident and the claims exceed the upper limits of your policy. In such an event, you could end up losing all your assets, including your home, in order to pay the expenses over and above your insurance limits. Because of this, it is always wise to purchase more liability insurance than required.
Commonly known as “comp and collision,” these are very important parts of your insurance policy. Collision insurance pays for repairs to your car for any covered accident. If your car is considered totaled—the cost to make repairs is more than the vehicle’s value—then collision will pay the value of your car. If you owe money on your vehicle, then you are required to have collision insurance, however if your car is older, and you don’t owe any money on it, it might not be worthwhile to carry collision insurance—that’s assuming you could pay to have your car repaired on your own, or you could afford a replacement vehicle.
Comprehensive insurance coverage covers all the things which could potentially happen to your car which are unrelated to an automobile accident. These include the following:
If you can afford comprehensive coverage, you should certainly do so, as the above things do happen on a fairly regular basis. If you have anti-theft and/or a tracking device on your car, your rates for comprehensive coverage will be a bit more affordable. If you owe money on your vehicle, then comprehensive coverage is a requirement.
Medical Payments coverage (med pay) will pay your medical bills as well as those of your passengers, no matter who is at fault for the accident. Med pay coverage can also cover income continuation, loss of services, funeral expenses and child-care expenses.
Although uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is not a requirement in the state of Alabama, considering the fact that nearly a quarter of all Alabama drivers don’t have insurance of their own, it is certainly a good idea. Particularly since Alabama has relatively low mandatory minimum requirements, in a serious accident there simply may not be enough to cover all the expenses of the accident. If the driver who caused the accident has no insurance, you will receive no payments for damages, or if the driver is underinsured, you might not receive enough. Because uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is relatively cheap, it is always wise to add it to your policy.
If you have been involved in an auto accident and are overwhelmed from attempting to determine whose insurance will cover the accident or if there is enough insurance to fully cover your injuries or the injuries of others, the Huntsville attorneys from Martinson & Beason can help. Our top rated car accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident, taking the time to fully explain every step during the process. Without an experienced Huntsville auto accident attorney by your side, you are at the mercy of insurance companies who may be more concerned with profits than with helping victims of injury. Don’t try to face an insurance company on your own, call Martinson & Beason today.