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Covering your legal liabilities

Posted March 12, 2014 in Advice Column, Greene County

Bodily injury and property damage liability covers your legal liability for a covered accident that involves injury to another person or damage to someone’s property, up to the limit of liability you select.

If your limits are 100/300/50, this means:
•    No more than $100,000 would be paid per person for bodily injury. (other vehicle injuries).
•    No more than $300,00 would be paid total for bodily injury.
•    No more than $50,000 would be paid per accident for property damage (other vehicle, post, garage door, mail box, etc.)

Example: You are at fault for an accident that injured two people and damaged another vehicle. The other driver’s total medical bills were $15,000 and the other passenger’s total medical bills were $8,500.

The damage to the other vehicle was $20,000 (new vehicle). All injuries and damages would be covered because they fall within the liability limits you selected. Each person’s injuries were less than $100,000, and the amount for all injuries ($23,500) was less than $300,000. The other vehicle’s damage also was below the $50,000 property damage liability limit.

On the other hand, if you are at fault for an accident and the medical bills from the injuries or property damage that you cause exceed your limits of liability, you are responsible for the remaining damage, which might put your personal assets at risk or future income.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist
Not everyone complies with Iowa’s motor vehicle financial responsibility law, which requires liability insurance for all motor vehicles (I know, hard to believe).  Even motor vehicle owners who do comply with the law may only carry the minimum $20,000 of coverage mandated by Iowa law.  Let’s say you’re in a car accident, and the other driver is at fault. If that driver doesn’t have car insurance, uninsured motorist coverage on your policy will help protect you. It can cover injury-related medical expenses (note “medical expenses”). If the driver who hit you has some auto insurance, but not enough, underinsured motorist coverage can cover the difference between your bills and the driver’s coverage up to the limits of your policy.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage is an available coverage with some companies. This may pay for damages when your covered vehicle is damaged and the person at fault for the accident does not have liability insurance or does not have enough liability insurance.

Roadside assistance
It can be a major inconvenience when you really need to get somewhere and you’ve got a flat tire. Or you’re out of gas. Or your car just won’t start. Maybe you are in an accident and need a tow to the nearest garage. An emergency roadside assistance program can help in these situations.

Information provided by Jill Von Stein, MacDonald Insurance, 110 E. State St., Jefferson, 515-386-8185, jill@macdonaldinsurance.com

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