When it comes to having an automobile, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Cars these days are expensive. Even the cheapest ones cost several thousand dollars. No one wants to have to spend even more money on fixing the car should they ever end up in an accident. What is even more expensive is the cost of hospital visits, medical treatment, and further rehabilitation should you end up injured in one such accident. Far more expensive than a car, if you are severely harmed in an accident, you could end up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars – even millions.
However, there is a way you can protect yourself from emptying your bank account and ending up in debt because of a car accident. Car insurance has been around almost as long as the invention of the car itself, and for good reason. Automobiles, while convenient, can be dangerous. Even if you are a stellar, careful driver, there is no knowing what the people in the cars around you are going to do. Car insurance, combined with a good car accident lawyer, will make sure that your finances are safe and secure, and that the only person paying for your accident is the party who caused it.
Car insurance in Washington State
In 2019, out of every state in the US, Washington State is ranked fifth for having the highest percentage of uninsured drivers. Despite our state making it mandatory for every motorist to have liability insurance, still a great number of drivers remain uninsured. This is usually due to the cost of insurance, which can vary from state to state. MoneyGeek reports that “the average cost of car insurance in Washington is moderately-priced at $1,264 annually,” which is below the national average, but still can be quite unaffordable to many.
High costs of insurance can be due to urban population density, highway density, high vehicle theft rate, natural disasters, and even a high number of underinsured/uninsured motorists. With a higher number of uninsured motorists on the road, the price of insurance rises as there is a higher chance that you will end up in an accident with one such uninsured driver. It can be a bit of a Catch-22. The more insured drivers, the more likely the cost of insurance will decrease.
The real cost of an auto accident in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA
It’s said often that we believe that an accident will never happen to us. Accidents happen to other people. Then you’re in one, and when you don’t have insurance, you may find yourself deeply in debt with a wrecked car, as well as dealing with severe injuries.
The National Safety Council’s Injury Facts (NSC), calculated the average economic cost by “injury severity or crash” as well as the average comprehensive cost by injury severity. From a purely financial and literal money-lost perspective, based on “the calculable costs of motor-vehicle crashes are wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor-vehicle damage, and employers’ uninsured costs,” you can expect to pay anywhere from $4,700 to well over $1 million dollars depending on the severity of the accident, and whether there were any injuries or fatalities. After factoring in the loss of quality of life, you can expect to pay much more: anywhere from over $52,000 to over $11 million. Of course, these numbers are based on averages in the year 2020, and so individual costs may vary greatly.
You have to consider as well the amount you may have to pay should you be responsible for another person’s accident. Having insurance can help you to avoid paying (or help you to pay) someone else thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars for wrecking their car and/or causing them injury.
Most of us will not even see a million dollars in our life, much less be able to pay that amount due to an accident. This is the reason why insurance, especially comprehensive insurance, is important.
Types of insurance in Washington
There are six common types of car insurance that will be best for you as a motorist. These protect you from different costs based on liability, injury, and property damage.
These types of insurance include:
- Auto liability coverage. This insurance will help pay for the costs related to another person’s property damage and personal injuries acquired in a car accident with you. This is the type of insurance that is required in Washington State.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you are ever in an accident with a driver who has not enough or no insurance, this will help cover those costs. This often includes when you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident where the other driver cannot be found.
- Comprehensive coverage. While this coverage comes with a deductible (the amount you must pay out of pocket), it will help you cover costs related to damage from weather, theft, fire, and vandalism.
- Medical payments coverage. As you might surmise, this insurance will pay for your medical costs should you be injured in an accident.
- Collision coverage. This coverage is meant to help you repair or replace your car should you be in an accident with another person or an object such as a fence or guard rail.
- Personal injury protection. While not available in all states, Washington requires it to be offered to all motorists, though the state does not require the driver to have it. While this insurance will help you pay for your medical costs, it will also help to cover costs for expenses incurred due to your injury, such a loss in income or childcare.
All of the insurance policies come with a minimum cost to pay, but also they will only cover so much. Many insurance policies will cover a maximum of $100,000 to $500,000 in costs, so if you end up needing more than that covered, you may wish to consider an umbrella policy.
What is an umbrella insurance policy?
While not common, an umbrella insurance policy protects you and your family when you are in an accident where the costs exceed the amount covered by your regular insurance coverage. If you cause an accident where several vehicles are involved, and multiple people are injured, an umbrella policy will cover your costs when the expenses exceed the limits of your liability insurance. An umbrella policy will also cover any legal costs. It does not only cover car accidents, but all sorts of areas such as “personal injury to others, damage to other people’s property, and a variety of claims such as defamation, landlord liability and false imprisonment” depending on the type of umbrella insurance policy you choose.
Insurance is important, and it is worth the monthly or annual payments you make. One day, you may find yourself in a minor or severe car accident, and you will be spared a great amount of stress and pain when your insurance covers much of the costs you would have had to pay on your own otherwise. On top of insurance, if you are in an accident, you should seek out a car accident attorney if someone else was responsible for the collision. While insurance will cover your costs, compensation will do that and more, ensuring that they pay for the pain and suffering you are likely to endure due to their negligence.
At Philbrook Law Office, our compassionate and hard-working lawyers will ensure that you are compensated for the damage done to your property, and for the injuries you sustained. To schedule an appointment, call us or use our contact page. We have offices in Vancouver, WA as well as Battle Ground. Let us help you.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.