Curtis Insurance, Serving Southwest Louisiana since 1973
Automobile Insurance FAQ
Q: What types of Insurance does Curtis Insurance Agency offer? A: Auto, RV, Motorcycle, Home, Life, Medicare plans
Q: What are the minimum limits for (auto) Liability insurance in Louisiana? A: 15/30/25. By law, this is the least amount required by the Louisiana statutory compliance law for personal automobile liability insurance for Louisiana residents. However, simply being within the minimal limits as required by law does not necessarily provide adequate protection. Remember, if the accident is of such severity that the bodily injury to others and the damage to their property (usually their automobile) goes beyond your limits of coverage to pay for the damages, that you are responsible for all damages beyond your coverage limits. More coverage to better protect you is available and is generally of little increase in premium to raise the limits of your policy’s protection to you.
Q: What do the liability limits (15/30/25) on my auto insurance policy cover? A: If you are at fault in an accident your policy pays, up to $15,000 per person for their injuries, $30,000 per accident (total) and up to $25,000 for damage to their vehicle. This is called a “split limit” of coverage. As you can see each number i.e., “15” stands for thousands of dollars. The first two figures on a split limit policy apply to “Bodily injury” you do to someone else (you are not personally covered for your bodily injuries by your liability coverage; this is to cover others you are responsible for within the terms and meaning of the policy language) with the first figure representing the maximum in thousands per person and the second figure the maximum for ALL injuries in the accident. Thus, a minimal policy will pay up to, but not more than $15,000 for one person’s injuries; if two, or more, people are injured the policy will pay up to, but not more than $30,000 for two or more persons you are liable for. You can readily see that multiple injuries could easily go beyond the ability of a minimal policy to adequately cover, or pay for. The last figure, “25” is the amount in thousands to cover property (generally another automobile, but damage to any kind of property is included, such as a fence, a home, etc.) Although $25,000 may seem like a lot of money, new automobiles today are often well above this amount, and luxury cars and trucks often go well over $40,000. Fortunately, much more coverage could be available at a very affordable increase in premium.
Q: What does Med Pay (Medical Payments) on my auto insurance policy cover? A: Medical Payments pays a monetary amount to help cover medical costs you and/or your passengers incur in an accident. Even if you have hospitalization coverage through another plan, Medical Payments coverage on your automobile policy could provide low cost valuable protection to supplement your other coverage. Medical Payments coverage covers you (and your household family members) without regard to fault when injured in your automobile. This coverage extends or “follows” you if you are a passenger in another personal vehicle besides the ones you own, as a pedestrian if you are struck by a car, and can even be applied to funeral expenses if you or a family member die as result of an automobile accident, if the policy limit on the medical payments was not exhausted beforehand.
Q: What does UM mean/cover? A: UM is short for Uninsured Motorists and it covers you/your vehicle in the instance you are in a not-at-fault accident with an un/under-insured motorist. Many folks carry the minimum limits of Liability (15/30/25) but sometimes that’s not enough to take care of your injuries and/or damage. In that instance your UM coverage would kick in. Uninsured Motorists (UM) covers bodily injury from an uninsured motorist (UMBI). However, this coverage can be expanded to include coverage on your vehicle (this is called: Uninsured Motorist Property Damage, or UMPD) if you do not carry collision coverage and it carries a deductible of $250. This additional part of Uninsured Motorists coverage is not automatic with your Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury protection and must be selected if want it. However, if you have collision coverage on your vehicle then you are not eligible for UMPD as the damages to your vehicle are already covered on your policy.
Q: Yeah, but the law requires everyone to have insurance, why should I carry extra? A: Statistics show that 12.6% of drivers in Louisiana do not have proper auto insurance. So, although we have a law that says everyone is required to carry liability coverage, people often, and sometimes even while unaware of it, drive without insurance. Sometimes they forget to pay their renewal premium, resulting in an expired policy. Or, they fail to pay their monthly payment, resulting in cancellation of an in-force policy (He thought she paid it; she thought he paid it). Sometimes, their money runs out and they paid their light bill instead of their insurance as they prioritized their needs, even while intending, as always, to get their insurance paid and even while understanding the risks involved as they still drove to work, the store, etc. Also, for purposes of liability coverage, a stolen vehicle is always an uninsured vehicle where liability is concerned. Although the vehicle itself might be covered by the owner’s policy (comprehensive coverage), the owner is not responsible for a felonious act, meaning that any bodily injury or property damage done to someone else by a stolen vehicle is not covered by the policy on that vehicle. Also, even if there is liability coverage in force, it might be insufficient to cover injuries to other persons, and Uninsured Motorists Bodily Injury coverage (UMBI) can cover the underinsured portion up to the limits of the coverage. And, in the event the other party was without any insurance at all and you have no collision coverage, then, if having been selected along with the UMBI, the Uninsured Motorists Property Damage (UMPD), can cover the damage to your vehicle. UMBI also has the additional benefit of covering loss of earnings and pain and mental anguish. UMBI also covers you as a passenger in another vehicle. Therefore it is wise to have UM added to your auto insurance policy for the same reason you carry homeowners or other types of insurance--just in case.
Q: If I have UM do I need Med Pay? A: Med Pay is optional whether or not you have UM coverage. If you have UMBI, which only covers your injuries if the other driver was at fault AND uninsured, you would still need Medical Payments on your auto policy if you were at fault in an accident to cover any injuries to yourself under the auto policy. Your medical payments coverage, if you have it, would be the primary coverage and would pay the first dollar amounts for your injuries. This way you might avoid having to claim under your health insurance plan and thereby avoid any deductibles or co-payments up the limit you’ve selected for your auto Medical Payments coverage. There is no deductible for Medical Payments and in a minor accident this could mean no expense for you up to the limit of the coverage. Most policies offer as little as $1000 of coverage, or as much as $10,000 or more, depending on the company. It is generally little additional premium to increase this coverage to a more realistic amount of $5000 or more.
Q: I have health insurance, do I still need UM and/or Med Pay on my Auto Policy? A: UM and Med Pay are optional coverages. One of the reasons you might have them is to help with your health insurance deductible(s) and/or co-pay, loss of wages and other expenses while injured, etc. If you are injured in an auto accident, you will find the Medical Payments and Uninsured Motorists of benefit beyond your health insurance, not only for yourself, but for any passengers in your vehicle. In a not-at-fault accident, claiming under this coverage does not increase your rates.
Q: What does Comp/Collision cover? A: Comprehensive coverage covers theft of your vehicle, vandalism, glass breakage, flood, and fire. Collision coverage covers your vehicle in event you collide with something (usually another vehicle), hence the name, “Collision”.
Q: I was at fault in an accident but the insurance company didn’t cover damages to my car. Why? A: If you have liability only, your vehicle damages are not covered in an at-fault accident. You must have Collision coverage in order for your car to be covered in an At-Fault accident.
Q: My vehicle is paid off, do I still need Comp/Collision? A: A good rule of thumb in this instance is to base your decision on the value of your car less your deductible. If your vehicle still has a high retail/trade-in value it is wise to continue carrying Comp & Collision. You can check this at www.kbb.com. If you decide not to continue carrying Comprehensive and/or Collision coverage, at the very least you should add Uninsured Motorist coverage. This won’t help if you’re at fault, but it will in the instance you are involved in an accident with an un/under-insured vehicle. Without Collision coverage it is good to have Uninsured Motorists Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage (UMBIPD) in case the other driver is at fault, but uninsured. This way, your car would be covered for the damage with a deductible of $250, as well as any injuries caused by the uninsured driver.
Q: Is my boat/RV/utility trailer/etc. covered under my Auto policy? A: A boat, RV, or utility trailer for private use is covered for purposes of liability only while in tow by your automobile, as the liability coverage is extended to a trailer while in transit and properly attached. For example, if the trailer were to come loose while in tow with resulting damage to another vehicle then damages would be paid under the liability portion of the auto policy for the damage done to that other vehicle. However, there is no coverage for damage to the in tow trailers and their cargo under this coverage. It would be necessary to buy a policy for the boat, RV, and trailer to have them covered for physical damage coverage on these items. Also, although some homeowner policies do provide liability coverage for the use of watercraft, this coverage is limited as to the amount of liability coverage and only to boats propelled by a limited amount of horsepower. There could also be limitations on the coverage of liability on the homeowner policy that would be covered much more comprehensively under a boat policy and with higher limits available. Boat insurance, especially liability coverage on a boat, is relatively inexpensive and should be seriously considered.