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2 There are countless drivers across the state of Arizona that are uninsured or underinsured. In fact, it is estimated that one (1) out of every five (5) drivers on the road is driving without insurance. When accidents occur, liability is often disputed. If you have been in an accident, the other driver s insurance company may delay your claim or even possibly deny it altogether. If this happens, do you have sufficient insurance coverage to protect you and your family? Medical bills, rental cars, property damage, pain & suffering, and lost wages all come to mind after an accident. How well are you protected? The following information provides an outline of all available coverages so you know what is available to protect yourself from uninsured and underinsured drivers. LIABILITY/BODILY INJURY (BI) PROPERTY (PD) COLLISION RENTAL MEDICAL PAYMENTS (MED PAY) UNINSURED MOTORIST (UM) UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE (UIM) EMERGENCY ROAD SIDE ASSISTANCE COMPREHENSIVE GLASS GAP COVERAGE ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 1

3 Bodily Injury Liability (BI) This coverage is mandatory in Arizona. Liability coverage protects all injured persons (occupants of your vehicle, other vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.) if YOU are at-fault or the driver of your car is at-fault for an accident (generally, anyone driving your car with your permission is also covered by your liability insurance). If this coverage is inadequate to compensate an injured person, the injured person could conceivably seek to collect against the driver s personal assets. Therefore, you want the best coverage possible you can reasonably afford. The minimum amount of coverage that Arizona requires in this category is a 15/30 policy, which means no one person/claimant can receive more than $15,000 and no more than $30,000 is available per accident, no matter how many claimants there might be. This type of coverage can usually be increased in set increments, such as 25/50, 50/100, 100/300, etc. Many carriers also offer a $1,000, umbrella coverage that would cover losses above a maximum BI coverage. Umbrella policies usually require the highest level of BI coverage. How much do you need? That is the important question. If you pay for insurance and never need it, then other than providing you peace of mind, it just costs more. In deciding how much you should have, sit down with your insurance agent or your attorney. Discuss your income and discuss your assets. How much can you afford? How much insurance should you and your family have to protect you against an accident and a financial catastrophe? These things need to be discussed and planned in advance. Once an accident occurs, it is too late. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 2

4 Property Damage Liability (PD) This is also mandatory coverage in Arizona, and provides insurance coverage for the property damage you (or the driver of your car) cause to other vehicles, buildings, signs/poles, etc. The minimum amount of coverage that Arizona requires in this category is $10,000, although carriers offer increased levels of coverage in set increments ($25,000.00, $50,000.00, etc.). Minimal PD coverage may not be enough to cover your responsibility should you cause an accident. After all, it is virtually impossible to buy a new car for less than $10,000. Just think, if another person caused damage to your car and they only had $10,000 worth of PD coverage, would it be enough to pay for the damage to your case plus a rental car while your car was being repaired? It is well known that cars are getting more expensive. If your son or daughter causes an accident, perhaps rear ending a $60,000 Mercedes, are you comfortable with only $10,000 of insurance protection? Maybe it is time to rethink this. I recommend at least $25,000 worth of coverage, and more if you can afford it. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 3

5 Collision Coverage This is coverage for the damage that occurs to your vehicle in a collision. It will pay for the damage to your car, regardless of who is at fault. It is not mandated by Arizona, but is usually required by the bank/lender that provides the financing for your vehicle. This coverage may be essential in the event that your vehicle is damaged in a collision caused by another driver who is uninsured. Your own collision coverage will pay for the full damages of your vehicle (repairs, or total loss fair market value) minus your collision deductible. A deductible could be as low as $ and as high as $1, Most people choose a deductible in the mount of $ or $ It is very common for your insurance agent/company to encourage you to make your claim against the other at-fault driver rather than use your own coverage. However, remember that your insurance agent/company works for you. You pay for this protection and are free to ask that they process your claim through your own policy. We recommend this whenever it is unclear if the other driver was insured or can be proven to be at fault (after all, it can take 7-10 days, or more to get a copy of a police report). We also recommend this if your damages exceed $10,000 and the other at-fault driver possibly has only minimal property damage coverage. In fact, should you use your own collision coverage, and another driver is insured ultimately proven to be at fault, your own insurance company will seek reimbursement of the other driver s insurance company (this is called subrogation ). If and when successful, your insurer will reimburse you for the amount of your deductible. Under Arizona law, your insurance company cannot raise your rates for making a claim for an accident that you did not cause or did not contribute to. Many people elect to cancel their collision coverage once their vehicle reaches a certain age or is paid off. This may be okay, but make sure you understand all of the ramifications of doing so. Remember it is estimated that 1 out of every 5 drivers on the road is without insurance. Can you afford to buy a replacement car, without any compensation for your old one? If you cannot afford the cash down payment on a replacement vehicle, then you should maintain your collision coverage. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 4

6 Comprehensive Coverage This coverage is in the event your vehicle is damaged or destroyed by theft or fire or a tree falling on it or wind or hail or any cause other than a motor vehicle collision. It is not mandatory by Arizona. Like Collision coverage, it also carries a deductible. Comprehensive is probably the least used coverage, but for this reason, it is generally not expensive. Explore your own budget and decide whether you need it or not. Glass This can sometimes be included in Comprehensive coverage, or it can be separate. This coverage can be purchased with or without a deductible. It covers any and all glass damage to your vehicle. It covers cracks in windshields, broken windows, leaks, etc. The damage does not have to have been result of an accident. Rental This is optional coverage also. It affords money for a rental in the event your car is not drivable as a result of an accident. Although another driver may be at fault and theoretically liable for your rental costs, the atfault driver may be uninsured or they may be underinsured. If they have only $10, of PD coverage and the repair of your car exceeds $10,000.00, then they do not have enough money to cover a rental car during repairs. If the accident is in dispute, the other driver s insurer may not be willing to pay for your rental. If you carry your own rental coverage you can get into a rental right away, which in many instances is the key to getting to work, to medical treatment or just maintaining your daily routine. As with collision coverage, your carrier will subrogate against the at fault party to recover whatever rental benefits they provide you. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 5

7 Rental Cont. Rental coverage is inexpensive. However, types of rental coverage vary greatly, so carefully select what works best for you. Some carriers require that you pay a deductible and then only cover 80% of the subsequent costs. Other carriers offer a daily maximum and total maximum. Think of what type of rental car you could get with your allowable daily rate and how long you could stay with a rental with your allowable max rate. You also want to ensure that your rental will be provided on a direct bill basis, which means the rental company bills your carrier directly as opposed to you paying up front and then getting reimbursed by your carrier. In most instances your own liability and property damage coverage will extend to your rental as a substituted vehicle under your own coverage while your vehicle is not drivable. Therefore should you use your rental coverage; you probably do not need to purchase any of the additional insurance coverage offered by the rental company. Some rental coverages also include Loss of Use (LOU) compensation. This is a daily stipend/allowance payable to you in the event your car is not drivable but you elect to get by without a rental car during repairs. LOU compensates you for being unable to use and enjoy your car. The amount of daily LOU is usually measured by what it would cost to have put you in a rental. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 6

8 Medical Payments (Med Pay) This optional coverage pays for auto accident related medical care for all members of your household and passengers in your covered vehicle, regardless of fault. It covers all household members injured in an accident involving motor vehicle accidents, even if they themselves were pedestrians, bicyclists, or passengers in someone else s vehicle. The full amount of your Med Pay coverage extends to each and every occupant in your vehicle injured in an accident. Because of its applicability in so many scenarios, it is the single benefit most likely to be put to use at one time or another, which makes it the coverage least likely to be recommended by some insurance agents. Many agents tell you that med pay coverage is unnecessary if you have health insurance. (Note: This is malpractice, in my opinion.) However, health insurance may limit who you can treat with, require advance approval for any specialist or therapy referral, require a copay or deductible, and/or require reimbursement from any injury claim settlement. Medical Payments coverage lets you choose your provider, requires no copays and the first $5,000 worth of Med Pay coverage is not reimbursable. Best of all, it is no fault benefit, which means your rates are not affected by making a claim for medical payments benefits. Moreover, if you have an injury claim against another person, any settlement with their carrier will still include the full cost of all of your medical care, regardless of whether any of the bills have already been paid by Med Pay. The at fault driver does not have to pay less, simply because your bills were paid by your own insurance. Med Pay coverage is not very expensive. We recommend at least $5,000 in Med Pay coverage. However, some carriers offer as little as $1, in coverage while others offer up to $25,000. Talk to your agent about it (and don t let them persuade you that if you have health insurance, you don t need it). ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 7

9 Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) This optional coverage protects you in the event that the at-fault party is uninsured (has no insurance at all). Like Med Pay coverage, it is available to all household members injured in an accident caused by an uninsured motor vehicles. It also covers every occupant in your vehicle should the other at-fault vehicle be uninsured. This coverage allows a covered party to make the same injury claim as if making it against the at fault party, inclusive of medical bills, out of pocket costs (lost wages, etc.) and pain and suffering. The levels of coverage often replicate the same levels of liability coverage available from your carrier. If not, discuss this with your agent. We recommend your UM coverage be at least as much as your liability coverage. After all, shouldn t you and your family be as protected as you would otherwise protect a total stranger under your liability coverage? Under Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM) This optional coverage is the same as UM coverage except that UIM applies to cases where the other at fault vehicle is insured, but does not have enough liability coverage to cover the full value of your injury claim. This is often a reality if you sustain any kind of serious injuries and the at fault party carries only the minimal liability coverage (a 15/30 policy). It might also apply where there are multiple claimants against a minimal policy. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 8

10 Emergency Road Service This can include towing, gas, jump starts, etc. It be duplicate and or compliment service provided through AAA. However, one coverage may have limits on use per year or miles per tow, while the other may not. So explore and compare carefully. GAP Coverage This may be available through your automobile insurer, but is usually incorporated into your motor vehicle loan by and through the lending facility. It is never automatic you must always ask for it and decide if you want to pay for it. I mention it here because of its relation to collision coverage. If your car is totaled in an accident, the insurance company for the at fault driver is only required to pay the fair market value (FMV) at the time of the loss. What if you owe more than the fair market value of your car? This is where GAP coverage helps. This insurance covers the gap between the vehicle worth and the amount of your loan. This coverage is highly recommended for all new cars that are financed, and for all cars (new or old) financed at medium to high interest rates. ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 9

11 Need More Information? This guide is just a break-down of the basics that you need or should have in order to protect yourself to the fullest extend as far as auto insurance goes in Phoenix, Arizona. Should you have any questions, please visit us online at: ZacharLawFirm.com. There, you can find information regarding insurance claims, insurance coverage, and even how to deal with insurance companies after a car accident. You get 24/7 live chat support that is available to you anytime, anywhere. You may also call us at (602) if you have any questions regarding insurance, or if you ve been involved in an accident. There is no obligation for calling and we will even evaluate your case for FREE. Get answers. Stop guessing. Zachar Law Firm, P.C E. Thunderbird Rd. Phoenix, Arizona Phone: (602) Fax: (602) Online: ZacharLawFirm.com Find Us Online: Twitter.com/ZacharLaw Facebook.com/ZacharLawFirm Youtube.com/ZacharLawTV ZacharLawBlog.com AskAnInjuryLawyer.com ZacharLawFirm.com (602) Page 9

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