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					Utah Insurance Coverage
An Explanation of the Variety of Insurance Policies By Kenneth Christensen

Christensen Law Firm, PLLC 12357 South 450 East Suite 3 Draper, UT 84020 (801) 506-0800

Christensen Law Firm, PLLC 12357 South 450 East Suite 3 Draper, UT 84020 (801) 506-0800 www.utahaccidentlawfirm.com

Copyright © 2007 by Kenneth Christensen All rights reserved. No part of this report may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. Printed in the United States of America.

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Utah Insurance Coverage

U TA H I N S U R A N C E C O V E R A G E
AN EXPLANATION POLICIES
OF THE

VARIETY

OF

INSURANCE

As a personal injury attorney, I come across numerous people that claim to have “full coverage” for their car insurance, but unfortunately after an accident they learn that “full coverage” can mean numerous things. When buying car insurance it is important to understand each type of insurance that is available and then decide how much coverage should be purchased under each section of the car insurance policy. This explanation will cover each of the following coverages: Liability Coverage Collision Coverage Comprehensive Coverage Gap Insurance (This is separate insurance policy) Personal Injury Protection (PIP)/ No Fault Benefits Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) Umbrella Policy (This is a separate insurance policy) Liability Coverage Liability Coverage is the insurance that covers other people if you are in an accident that is your fault. This coverage is required by Utah Law and the minimum insurance limits are $25,000.00 per person and $65,000.00 per accident if more than one person is injured. This means that if three (3) people are injured in the same vehicle; their combined claims cannot exceed $65,000.00 and one persons claim cannot exceed more than $25,000.00. Liability Insurance only protects you from being sued personally if you have caused an accident. That is why it is never good to carry minimum amount of 25/65 Liability Insurance. Last year I handled a case that illustrates what can happen in this type of situation. A girl driving a suburban with five people in the vehicle took a corner too fast, causing the suburban to roll several times. All five people in the vehicle were seriously injured and the driver only had liability coverage for the Utah State minimum at the time of $25,000/$50,000 (it has since changed to $25,000/$65,000). This means that there was only $50,000.00 to cover all 5 passengers’ injuries. The $50, 0000.00, had to be divided up amongst all 5 of the passengers. As a result many, including my client, did not receive what they deserved and what they otherwise had been entitled to in this case. Once the $50,000.00 is divided up, each passenger can make a claim under their own Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This is why it is important to purchase good insurance coverage for the additional portions of the car insurance policy. We will discuss these additional portions further.

After an accident, “full coverage” can mean numerous different things.

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Utah Insurance Coverage

Collision Coverage Collision Coverage Insurance covers the property damage done to your automobile from an actual collision, and nothing more. This coverage does not cover damage done to the other vehicle. Typically deductibles are offered on collision coverage to lower the cost of your premium. It is important to consider what deductible amount you can afford should you be in an accident. Typical deductibles for collisions are $250, $500 or $1,000. Comprehensive Coverage Comprehensive Insurance covers damages to your vehicle caused by something other than a collision. Comprehensive Insurance can cover damages caused by falling objects, like a tree that falls during a windstorm and crushes your car. Gap Insurance Gap Insurance is a small insurance policy on your car loan that kicks in when the amount the insurance company will pay for your totaled or stolen car is less than what you actually owe on the loan or lease. When you purchase a car, make sure you ask if gap insurance has been included because most car dealers or auto loan officers leave Gap Insurance out of the sales agreement or loan documents without asking you if you want it. If you don't have it, you could be upside down on your loan for an accident you didn't cause. Insurance companies only have to pay what your vehicle is worth (not what is owed) when it is totaled in an accident. So if you are leasing or financing at least 70% of the value of your car or you rolled debt from your last car into your current loan, gap insurance will save you money if your car is totaled or stolen. Contact your lien holder to find out if gap insurance was included in your loan. If it wasn't, most lien holders will let you add gap insurance (even if you didn't get the coverage when you bought the car) since they would lose the collateral for their loan if the car is totaled in an accident. Most gap insurance policies average $5 to $10 a month. You may never need to use it, but for the price, it's a good thing to have! Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or No Fault Insurance Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and No Fault Insurance are different terms for the same type of Insurance Coverage. Utah is a “No Fault” state. This means you are required to purchase insurance that will pay for your medical bills and lost wages if you are in an automobile accident. You can collect these benefits even if the accident was your fault. Thus, the term “No Fault.” The reason “No Fault” law was enacted was to allow you to immediately receive medical treatment after an accident without having to wait for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to accept liability; which can take days or even weeks. Utah Law requires every driver to have at least $3,000.00 in PIP/No Fault Coverage. However, you can purchase additional coverage in the amounts of $5,000.00, $10,000.00 or even $100,000.00. This coverage is only available for medical expenses directly caused by an automobile accident. Rest assured that if the car accident is not your fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will reimburse your insurance company for the PIP expenses they paid and your premiums will not increase for making the PIP claim.

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Utah Insurance Coverage

In addition to medical expenses, PIP/No Fault Coverage also allows for lost wages up to the amount of $250.00 per week or 80% of your gross income, whichever is less. It also allows for replacement services in the home, such as paying someone to do yard work or house cleaning while you are recovering from injuries that keep you from performing these normal activities. If an automobile accident becomes fatal no matter whose at fault for the accident, the family of the deceased will qualify under the PIP/No Fault Coverage for survivor benefits and funeral expenses. The amount available under this coverage is typically $1,500.00 for funeral expenses and $3,000.00 for the survivorship benefits to the heirs, but this can be contracted for a higher amount. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) pays you for your pain and suffering and your out of pocket expenses if you were involved in an automobile accident and are injured by a driver that does not have car insurance. This coverage is equally as coverage. important as liability coverage It helps to financially protect you and your family from negligent acts of others. This is a smart investment and should not be waived under any circumstances. If you are hit by someone who illegally fails to have insurance on their vehicle or are involved in a hit-and-run accident you will only be compensated for your injuries and damages if you have adequate Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Rest assured that once your insurance company compensates you for your damages they then can pursue the irresponsible driver for reimbursement. Utah Law requires the Uninsured Motorist Coverage to be the same amount as the Liability Coverage, unless specifically waived in writing. Unfortunately, I have seen many individuals waive their full Underinsured Motorist Coverage without understanding what they are signing. Again, it is my opinion that Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage should never be waived or reduced under any circumstances. Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Underinsured Motorist Coverage is smart to have and should not be waved under any circumstances.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage applies when the person who caused the automobile accident has insurance, but the limits are not high enough to fully compensate you for your losses. In an Underinsured Motorist Claim your insurance company will pay the value of your claim that exceeds the at-fault drivers original policy limits. For example, Jack is an automobile accident with another driver who ran a red light. Jack’s injuries require him to have back surgery and his medical bills total $35,000.00. The driver who ran the red light only has the state minimum liability limits of $25,000.00. Jack settles for the $25,000.00 policy limits, but then is able to make a claim under his Underinsured Motorist Coverage for the remaining medical bills and pain and suffering associated with his injuries. Once again Underinsured Motorist Coverage is smart to have and should not be waived under any circumstances. You should have as much coverage you can afford to insure you and your family are fully compensated if ever involved in a catastrophic accident.

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Utah Insurance Coverage

I have found that increasing your Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage from the minimal amount of $25,000.00 to at least $100,000.00 will only increase your monthly premium from $5.00 to $10.00. Umbrella Policy An Umbrella Policy is not part of your automobile insurance policy and is not part of your home owner’s insurance policy. It is a totally separate policy from your automobile policy and generally cannot be purchased unless you have liability coverage on your vehicle in an amount of $250,000.00. However, Umbrella Policies are very reasonably priced. It acts like an “umbrella” (thus the name) and it protects you if any other insurance you have either does not cover you for your situation or has insufficient limits to cover you. You must exhaust the limit of your underlying auto or home owner’s policy before your umbrella policy kicks in. Typically, a million dollar umbrella policy will cost anywhere from $200.00 to $400.00 a year. If you are going to purchase an umbrella policy make sure it covers Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims. Unfortunately, most umbrella policy’s do not. However, I have found a website www.personalumbrella.com that offers Umbrella Policies with both Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist claims coverage and their policies are typically the same price as the policies from other companies without this additional coverage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR KENNETH CHRISTENSEN
Kenneth L. Christensen is the founder of The Christensen Law Firm, PLLC. He is an attorney at law duly sworn in the State of Utah and is authorized by the Supreme Court to practice law in all Courts in the State of Utah Christensen Law Firm
Our firm is dedicated to helping you seek the compensation you truly deserve for your injury. In addition to providing knowledgeable advice and experienced advocacy, we are committed to providing superior service to every client. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our clients. From start to finish, we will research, fight and finalize results that are fair. At The Christensen Law Firm we truly provide "Service With Integrity and Compassion When You've Been Injured."

. Kenneth’s legal expertise comes from years of study and practice in law. After earning a Bachelor of Science from Purdue University, Kenneth received his Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law. Since graduating, he has gained extensive legal experience in many areas, including personal injury claims, brain injuries, car, truck and motorcycle accident claims, aviation accident claims, and burn injuries. Kenneth has also authored the book “Seven Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Utah Accident Case.” This book provides detailed information to help answer common questions for accident victims. This book is free to all Utah residents. If you have been in Salt Lake City accident, visit www.utahaccidentbook.com to obtain your free copy today. If you or a loved one have suffered from a personal injury accident, please contact Kenneth Christensen for a free consultation at 801.506.0800

Christensen Law Firm, PLLC 12357 South 450 East Suite 3 Draper, UT 84020 (801) 506-0800 www.utahaccidentlawfirm.com
Kenneth Christensen - Attorney at Law