Nobody ever anticipates that they’re going to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, accidents happen every day—with more than three million people in the United States injured annually. When you are involved in a car accident, especially one that’s not your fault, you assume that the other driver’s insurance company will take care of your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other related expenses.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Not all drivers on the road carry adequate amounts of auto insurance coverage. It’s even estimated that about 13% of drivers in the United States don’t carry any car insurance at all.
What does this mean for you if you’re involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver? I shared my own story of this very experience with my auto insurance agent, Peter Vitale, who has witnessed this scenario countless times. As the owner of Michigan-based Bloomfield Insurance Group, Peter Vitale dedicates his professional passions to helping individuals remain protected against all unexpected events. Together, we discovered how comprehensive insurance coverage can make a huge difference in the outcome of the most unforeseen moments.
My Accident, My Story
A couple of years ago, I was returning home from work during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Traveling on a constantly-busy highway, I was happy to see my exit. Watching traffic slowing down from the middle lane, my senses immediately went into overdrive as the sheer force of a collision rocked me forward. Hit from the side, my compact vehicle slammed into the cars surrounding me. My head hit the steering wheel, and I tasted blood.
After police arrived at the scene, the driver behind me was quickly arrested for driving under the influence. To make matters worse, I found out shortly after the accident that the driver was completely uninsured. I worried about what this would mean for me when it came to paying my medical bills. My car was totaled, and I had no idea how I would be able to get back on the road without financial assistance.
When I called Peter Vitale’s insurance agency in Michigan, my worst fears were put at ease. The driver who was at-fault for the accident was uninsured, so my comprehensive auto coverage would handle all expenses on my behalf. Peter Vitale, who is also an insurance consultant in Michigan, explained that this type of coverage would support my needs wholly. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I received this news. I knew that the costs related to my accident would easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Prior to this accident, I never realized that my comprehensive coverage would include protection against uninsured and underinsured motorists. I thought that this coverage would simply cover damage to my vehicle in the event of an accident—but I was so happy to be wrong! In speaking with Peter, I learned that a lot of people don’t fully understand the difference between various levels of coverage. According to Peter Vitale, this is why customer education is pivotal in the auto insurance industry.
Ultimately, I was able to receive a relatively quick payout. It covered all of my expenses related to the accident, and allowed me to return to relative normalcy swiftly. While I was able to purchase a new vehicle, and have recovered physically from the accident, I certainly leverage this experience as a cautionary tale about how much worse the outcome could have been.
Why You Should Have Comprehensive Coverage
Depending on where you live, and whether you own your vehicle outright, you might be required to carry comprehensive auto insurance coverage. Currently, about half of the states require underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage as part of this. However, if your vehicle is being financed in any way, there’s a good chance that your auto lender requires you to have this type of coverage.
Even if you aren’t required by law to carry comprehensive coverage, my story should be a prime example of why you should have it anyway. After all, you never know when you might get into an accident with a driver who doesn’t carry insurance. Without this coverage, my only option would have been to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Not only would this have been a long and drawn-out process—but even if I ended up “winning” my case against him, I highly doubt that he would have had the funds to pay his settlement.
What exactly does comprehensive coverage include, anyway? This can vary from one insurance policy (and carrier) to the next. However, some examples of things that are often covered by a comprehensive policy include:
- hail or flood damage
- damage from hitting an animal
- theft or vandalism
- windshield or auto glass repairs/replacement
In addition to these common occurrences, your comprehensive policy may also include something called “underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.” If so, then this will allow your own insurance to kick in and pay for expenses related to an accident where the at-fault driver does not carry insurance or doesn’t carry enough insurance to pay for your damages. For me, this coverage allowed me to get back on track.
At the end of the day, comprehensive coverage with underinsured/uninsured motorist protection gives you some much-needed peace of mind each time you get behind the wheel. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, there are some things you should keep in mind.
For starters, once you’ve established that the driver does not have insurance, be sure to collect his or her contact information. If the driver tries to flee the scene (not uncommon with uninsured drivers), do not chase him or her. Instead, write down the driver’s plate number and a description of the vehicle to pass along to the police. From there, you’ll want to contact your own auto insurance company as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on your claim.
Peter Vitale Offers Insight And Help
Whether you’re required to carry comprehensive coverage or simply want to be proactive in protecting yourself from uninsured drivers, comprehensive coverage isn’t as expensive as you might think. The key is to determine how much coverage you need—and to shop around for the right insurance carrier for you.
In my experience, Peter Vitale of Bloomfield Insurance Group was extremely helpful in choosing the policy that was right for my needs and budget. He was also very knowledgeable when it came to auto insurance laws and requirements in my home state of Michigan. Peter Vitale, an award-winning insurance professional, explained how carrying state-minimum liability insurance alone would not be enough to cover a lot of my expenses if I was ever in an accident—and he was right. I’m grateful for the advice I received from him and relieved that I followed his recommendations!
If it wasn’t for my comprehensive auto insurance coverage, I’m not sure how I would have navigated the financial obligations stemming from my accident with an uninsured driver. This wake-up call has certainly shaped the way in which I look at auto insurance. It acts as a learning story, and a reminder that being prepared for the worst-case scenario can often mean the difference between financial safety and ruin.