Insurance can be a confusing topic. Many people want to know exactly what type of insurance they should purchase and how much. More questions arise when it comes time to file an insurance claim after an accident or property damage.
The law office of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner helps injury victims in the aftermath of a serious accident. We help clients seek maximum compensation and deal with insurance companies on their behalf.
If you are interested in speaking to one of our injury attorneys in a free consultation, please call 800-594-4884. Otherwise, read the following for answers to frequently asked questions about insurance claims and coverage.
Q: As a personal injury attorney, what types of insurance coverage do you think all Texans should have?
A: Auto Liability:
Regarding auto insurance in the state of Texas, you are required by law to carry liability insurance if you are going to drive an automobile on the streets in Texas. This means that each of us has to carry a liability policy—a policy that will insure us in the event that we cause damage to someone else. The minimum liability policy limits right now are $30,000 per person and up to $60,000 per accident. To start off, each of us have to carry, if we are going to drive, this minimal amount of liability insurance.
Liability insurance is important because it means that if you cause an accident, your insurance company will cover your liability to others up to the amount specified in your lability insurance policy. As stated above, the minimum amount is $30,000 per person and up to $60,000 per accident in Texas right now; but this is the minimum amount. In order to protect yourself, you should always look at your risks, look at your assets, look what you have that could be seized in a judgment and, in light of these, try to get a reasonable amount of coverage above and beyond the minimum.
Auto Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”):
In addition to the liability portion of your auto policy, you should also obtain personal injury protection benefits. Most people know these as “PIP” benefits. PIP benefits come with your auto policy. In order for them to not be there, you had to specifically exclude PIP coverage at the point you purchased your auto policy. PIP essentially functions as no fault insurance that will protect you and cover your medical bills and your lost wages if you are injured in an accident up to the amount of coverage.
What makes PIP unique is that it provides no fault coverage. This means that if you are in an auto accident that is your fault, your personal injury protection benefits will nonetheless cover your own hospital bills and some lost wages up to the policy limits even though you were at fault.
On average, PIP is available with a $2,500 minimum that most people have on their policies. You can increase this amount and it is often quite affordable to do so.
Auto Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UM/UIM”):
Another type of auto insurance coverage that you will want to have is called underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. You will often hear this referred to as UM/UIM coverage. Just like PIP, UM/UIM coverage is on your policy unless you specifically excluded it.
UM/UIM coverage will cover you in the event that you are injured in an accident and the other driver is at fault, but the other driver does not carry any liability insurance or enough liability insurance to cover your damages. For instance, let us suppose that a driver rear-ends you and forces you to incur $100,000 in medical bills, but you find out that the driver that hit you either has no insurance or only the minimum $30,000 in liability insurance coverage. If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, you could be left having to pay out of your pocket for the amounts above the other driver’s liability insurance amount. However, if you have UM/UIM coverage, the UM/UIM coverage kicks in to cover the additional amounts up to your policy limits. So, instead of having to pay $70,000 to $100,000 out of pocket, you may pay nothing out of pocket because you had UM/UIM coverage.
Hurricanes – Windstorm & Flood Coverage:
If you are a homeowner or a business owner along the low-lying areas of the Gulf Coast having some sort of windstorm and flood coverage to protect your home or your business in the event of a hurricane may be vital. Hurricanes seem to be coming with more frequency and it does not look like they are going to be letting up. Whenever one of these hurricanes other tropical storm event hits, the argument always comes down to was your damage caused by wind driven rain or was your damage caused by flood? As recent experience with hurricanes and other tropical events has shown, both windstorm and flood coverage are important and different types of coverage that may come into play depending on the character and effects of the storm.
Well before a hurricane or other tropical storm event hits, as a business owner or as homeowner, it is imperative to look at your policy to determine what type of coverage you have. If you do not know, contact your insurance agents who sold you the policies.
Q: And how does somebody report an insurance claim?
A: Before you report a claim, look at your insurance policy. The policy will likely have information on it that defines what you, as the policyholder, must do.
Generally, you should do the following:
- Document Your Damage – Take photos and video of all damage. Keep receipts and copies of any correspondence with your insurance company.
- Notify Your Insurance – Timely inform your insurance company. Act quickly to avoid missing any potential claim deadline(s).
- Stop Additional Damage – Take pictures and video of property damage as you find it, but do what you reasonably can to stop additional damage from occurring in the short term. Document everything before and after.
Q: What if the insurance company denies your claim or does not do what it says it will do? What happens then?
A: In that situation where your claim gets denied, you should consult a lawyer. The Texas Insurance Code lays out exactly what the duties are of an insurance company following the reporting of a claim. After you have reported your claim to the insurance company, there are certain deadlines that are laid out by the Texas Insurance Code in which they must acknowledge receipt of and come to a determination of your claim.
From there, you should receive a document that tells you exactly why the insurance company is denying the claim and what they are looking for. If you can get that document to your attorney or have an attorney who does free consultations take a look at what insurance companies call either a “reservation of rights” letter or an outright denial, your attorney can have a good idea at that point whether or not there is any bad faith involved and whether not there may be a lawsuit that you should bring in the courts to seek resolution.
The Texas Insurance Code has very good terms to help the consumer, to help the policy holder. And it has some very strict timelines for the insurance company with very harsh penalties in the event that they cannot comply. It is important to keep a file, holding on to every document you have sent or received from the insurance company.