When it comes to purchasing auto insurance, most of us simply ask what the minimum requirements are that the state requires us to have, pick that bare minimum coverage, and move on. However, doing this isn’t always the best choice. Often, Kentucky drivers only find that out after they have car crashes or cause one and are left with unexpected bills. Some even find that their insurer no longer wants to do business with them either. So, we’re going to go over tips and tricks to show you how to buy auto insurance from a Kentucky car accident lawyer’s perspective in hopes that it will help you make more informed choices when purchasing your own coverage.
What Car Insurance Coverage You Must Have in Kentucky
According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, owners are prohibited from operating a vehicle in our state without first obtaining auto insurance. Auto owners may have their car registration revoked if they fail to maintain insurance coverage. Additionally, drivers may receive a 90-day sentence in jail or anywhere from a $500-$1,000 fine if they fail to maintain coverage. So, long story short, it’s imperative that you have auto coverage before you get behind the wheel here.
Now, the next question is, what are the minimum insurance requirements in Kentucky? Our state requires passenger car operators to have at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in liability coverage. This covers a motorist who causes someone else to suffer bodily injuries in a crash. That person would be able to tap into this coverage to pay any bills incurred from their involvement in the collision.
Our state also requires motorists to secure $25,000 in property damage coverage, which goes to cover repairs to another driver’s car if you cause damage.
Also, since Kentucky is a no-fault state, vehicle owners must purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which covers accident-related medical bills, lost wages, and other costs no matter who caused the crash. Our state requires a minimum of at least $10,000 in PIP; however, this coverage can be rejected.
Pros and Cons for Opting in Kentucky’s At-Fault Insurance System
As discussed earlier, in states with no-fault systems like ours, you have the option to opt into or decline participation. Opting in means you need to purchase PIP coverage. Since you file a claim with your own insurer and no-fault determinations have to occur if you file a PIP claim, you can count on it being resolved more quickly. The downside to agreeing to participate in the at-fault system is that PIP minimum coverage limits are quite low, and this insurance doesn’t provide compensation for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
Should You Go With the Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Limits?
Buying the bare minimum coverage can be a risky choice. Why? Cars, repair costs, and medical expenses are getting increasingly more costly. You could personally be held financially liable for your own injuries or that of someone you struck if you didn’t have enough coverage to pay for outstanding bills. And, as you may surmise, if you’re not timely in making payments on those debts, your creditors could take you to court seeking to have a judgment entered against you. If successful, and you still didn’t pay, you could have your wages garnished or be forced into filing bankruptcy.
The incremental difference in price between purchasing minimum coverage and slightly more is minimal to avoid the potentially financially crippling outcome described above, so we urge you to take this into account when purchasing your auto insurance in Kentucky.
What’s Best: High or Low Deductible Vehicle Insurance?
Deductibles are the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket when you file a claim before the insurance will start making any payments as per your policy itself. The way deductibles typically work is the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. So, many consumers will purchase a high deductible plan, assuming they will never need to use their coverage, to keep their costs low.
While having low-deductible coverage may be okay if drive less than average (and therefore have a lower overall risk of being involved in an accident), one could also argue that your limited on-road experience leaves you not as “on top of your game” as you should be, meaning you too are at a high risk for having a wreck.
Another downside to having high-deductible coverage is that you’ll have to come up with that amount of money if you have a crash. It’s important to note that uninsured motorist, comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection, collision, and other types of insurance may have deductibles, so, as you can imagine, your expenditures in paying deductibles for each can get quite costly if you have high deductibles on each option.
A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t have the money readily on hand to pay your deductibles if the need should arise, then it’s best not to purchase coverage with the highest deductible.
What Other Auto Insurance Should You Consider Purchasing Beyond State Minimum Requirements?
The mandatory minimums described above comprise must-have coverage in our state. However, there are other add-on options your insurer will likely offer you to choose from that you should seriously consider, as they can help out if your car is in disrepair or you have a wreck:
- Rental reimbursement coverage: It can take some time to fix your vehicle if it has sustained significant damage, and renting another one while the body shop is performing work on it can be costly. This coverage covers the price of your rental while your own car is in the shop undergoing repairs.
- Collision coverage: While not required in Kentucky, your insurer will likely offer this coverage, and your lender may go as far as requiring you to secure it. It can be used to pay for repairs or replace your car if objects break loose (like tires colliding with your vehicle) or you are involved in a car accident in Lexington.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: Many of us assume that those individuals we share the road with all comply with their obligation to have auto insurance, but many do not. They take their chances and drive, hoping they won’t be caught. Others have insurance, but the insurance they purchased isn’t enough to cover the high costs associated with a car crash victim receiving medical care. The two scenarios described here are when having underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage can help. It covers expenses when a driver who strikes you doesn’t have insurance, or the coverage isn’t enough to cover the full extent of the bills you’ve amassed.
- Medical payments coverage: Also known as MedPay, this policy add-on can help you cover your medical costs and those of your passengers if a wreck leaves you or them with injuries.
- Comprehensive coverage: A wide range of incidents can occur beyond wrecks that deprive you of your car, including it being stolen, vandalized, or damaged in a natural disaster, like a fire. This insurance covers damage to vehicles attributed to other factors aside from crashes.
- GAP insurance: Cars depreciate fast as soon as you drive them off of the dealer’s lot. Plus, if you finance your vehicle, it’s likely that you’ll be paying more toward interest than the principal at the beginning of your repayment period. This means that the sooner after acquiring a vehicle that you have an accident, the higher the chances are that you may find yourself owing more than your car is actually worth. GAP insurance covers the difference between what you owe on your car loan and what the vehicle’s market value is.
- Emergency roadside assistance: While not specifically a type of insurance, many insurers do offer this as an add-on to their customers. It can come in handy if your vehicle is totaled or otherwise undrivable after a wreck. It covers the cost for a wrecker to come and haul away your vehicle from the scene of the crash.
Hopefully, this Kentucky car accident lawyer’s perspective on how to buy auto insurance aids you in understanding the different coverage options that exist, factors you want to consider when selecting or waiving different add-ons, deciding on deductibles, and whether meeting minimum requirements or exceeding them is best. Our car accident lawyers at Peterson Law Offices are here for you if you have suffered serious injuries in an accident and want to better understand your insurance coverage and your right to a financial recovery for your losses. Call or email us anytime for a free consultation with an attorney in our office.