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What if My Bills Are Higher Than the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Limits?

You may be having a smooth day after waking up in the morning but end up getting involved in a car accident. After the accident, you have a likelihood of getting badly injured and having your car totally wrecked. However, on your way to recovery you are likely to incur several expenses. You will incur bills such as hefty medical expenses from surgeries, imaging, and consistent hospital visits.

After the hard part of the recovery is over you get relieved that you are out of the hospital and are relaxed owing to the fact that the at-fault driver will pay for damages or at least their insurance company will do it only to learn later that the driver cannot pay you.

You are left wondering why your driver can’t pay you. After consulting a lawyer you are likely to learn that the driver’s insurance is not sufficient and you are left wondering what if your bills are higher than the at-fault driver’s insurance, what do you do then?

The driver at fault is liable to you. As an injured person this is the first thing you should know.  The insurance company is also liable to you and the driver at fault.

Through the help of our experienced Denver auto accident attorneys, you may be able to pay your bills. The same lawyer can advise you on taking up auto insurance coverage that can protect you from such issues.

Insurance Policy Limits

When you are buying an insurance policy you must understand what you will gain from it. There are many technical terms in this business and though it may take time to understand, it is wise to not rush when buying an insurance policy.

The term limit involves the maximum amount of money an insurer will pay you after an occurrence. Take time to learn more about the policy limits. A higher policy limit may not seem much now, but after an unfortunate scenario the insurer will pay you. It is good to note that you cannot sue an insurance company beyond the policy limit even if your bills are higher.

You can find multiple policy limits in one insurance cover, such as comprehensive and collision coverage. They will have different types of limits for all, so ensure you understand each.

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Another thing to check on is the number of times they can pay. Some policies have the once a year while others have in one occurrence payments. These two are very different, for once a year, it means your insurance coverage will only be limited to that particular amount, hence if you are involved in several accidents, in one year and the limit has reached, then you will have to cover the other cost with your money. While in one occurrence means that there is a maximum amount of money you can be compensated in every one occurrence even if you’re involved in an accident twice or thrice in one year.

Types of Auto Coverage

Liability coverage- this is the common type of coverage option required by most states for a vehicle owner to drive a vehicle. This primary coverage is for property damage and injuries incurred by another person in a car accident you caused. There are two types of minimum liability coverage:

  • Property damage liability coverage: This minimum coverage limit pays for the cost of repairs on someone else's property while you were driving.
  • Bodily injury liability coverage: pays for the cost of treatment of another person in an accident you caused.

Liability damage has several shortcomings. Firstly is that it does not cover damage to your car if you are involved in an accident. Secondly, it does not pay for accident injuries incurred in an automobile accident. Hence having another insurance cover is helpful.

Related: What to do After a Car Accident in Denver

Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you are hit by an uninsured driver or an underinsured motorist it means that their insurance cover or their liability limit cannot cover your hospital bill. An uninsured motorist claim pays for your bill and sorts the rest of what cannot be covered. The uninsured motorist property damage is an optional coverage in some states and compulsory in others.

Comprehensive Coverage

This additional insurance policy is expensive compared to others and it is optional. It offers coverage for property damage, theft, vandalism, accidents, natural disasters such as floods, fires, damage caused by animals, or falling objects such as rocks from buildings under construction. This cover also has a deductible which means the amount of money that you initially used to cater for the damages before the insurance company pays you.

Medical Payments Cover

Medical payment coverage is compulsory in some states and optional in others. It involves taking care of the medical bill for you, your family members, friends, and passengers who you were with when the accident took place. It involves x-rays, surgeries, hospital visits, and any other hospital bill that may need to be paid.

Personal Injury Protection

It is also known as no-fault insurance. This type of coverage does not matter who’s at fault. Like the medical cover, it carters for your hospital bill, from the surgeries, imaging, and hospital stays. It is only in some states. What is more interesting about it is that it covers other non-medical costs, such as child care and even lost income. The good thing about personal injury protection is that it covers the whole family, when one of them is involved in an accident or when one is a passenger in the vehicle that had an accident.

Collision Coverage

This type of insurance covers you when are involved in an accident with another vehicle or when you hit an object such as a tree. This type of insurance cover will help pay for repairs for your car or replacement for a new one, this is the actual price after removing the deductible.

There are other types of insurance coverage such as;

This is the amount of money that you are required to pay towards an insured loss. Generally, it means a particular amount of cash that you will pay for your automobile when it is wrecked, while the insurance company pays the rest of the money. Most deductibles range from $100 to $2000.  

For example, if you had a policy limit of $12,000 and your deductible was $1,500. Then the insurance company will pay you $10,500. This applies every time you file a claim. The two main insurance cover with deductibles are collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

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There are several ways that you won't have to pay for your deductible, this includes;

  • If after an automobile accident you hit a car but it ends up not damaged, then the insurance can use your liability coverage to cover the other driver.
  • When you are at fault, when your car is not the one at fault then the insurance of the other driver may be used to cover.

Can insurance Companies Pay More than Policy Limits?

It is unfortunate since you cannot sue an insurance company to pay more than the policy limits. Insurance companies make the limits binding to forbid you to sue them for more than what they offer even when your damages are way above their limit, this is their way of preventing extra losses in the company.

However, you can sue the driver at fault instead of the insurance company. This way the driver at fault will pay for your damages from their pocket. However, it is not always the best idea. Most drivers will not be able to pay you for the damage and will at least pay the full amount even when you win the case. It becomes very difficult for you to get your full amount, plus the court cases are long and may take time.

Even so, if through your lawyer you negotiate the best possible agreement with the insurance company the process can be shorter. At times it may not go as you want it to and you may still get limited funds unless your Denver car accident attorney proceeds with the lawsuit.

There may be other ways of getting your financial compensation. We have listed other additional liability insurance options below.

Having umbrella insurance is also known as excess liability insurance. They cover beyond existing covers, such as auto, home, and watercraft. The excess liability is good for people with an extensive amount of assets that require to be insured. With such an insurance cover you feel secure about your assets.

Filling a lawsuit against multiple parties. When filing a lawsuit against multiple parties for accident injuries and damages, you are able through a joinder so you can sue multiple parties so that they can pay for damages. This only involves parties that were involved in the accident. However, you will need to prove their role in the accident and the damage that they were responsible for.

Adding another insurance policy. Adding another insurance policy can be advantageous if you want to get better compensation. Let's say you currently have liability coverage. Adding personal injury protection may be able to cover for injuries that may be overwhelming to you.

Related: How to File a Car Accident Claim in Colorado

How Does Charging by Insurance Companies Take Place

Driving record

If you have no driving record and this may be the first time you are taking an insurance cover, then you may have to pay more. This is because they have no way of knowing your driving skills and if you will end up with violations later on they may incur losses.

A driver with a bad driving record is charged more. If you have had several traffic violations or gotten involved in several accidents, then you are more likely to get charged higher than a driver who has a perfect driving record. This is because a perfect driving record gives the insurance company assurance that accidents will not happen in the near future.

Location

Depending on the area you drive your car you may have to pay a higher or lower insurance cover. People living in urban areas pay more compared to people living in rural areas, this is because people living in urban areas have higher chances of getting into an accident compared to those in rural areas. Also, the level of security in the different areas is important. When living in an insecure area, it is easier to get vandalized and theft can easily occur compared to when you are living in a more secure location.

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Frequency

If you tend to use your car often, then you may pay a higher cost. This is due to the wear and tear of the vehicle which could subjectively cause more accidents. Also, the constant use of the car may increase the chances of getting involved in an accident. People who are always on the road get involved in more accidents than people who rarely travel using their cars.

Age

Depending on different states, age can affect how you are charged by insurance companies. Younger drivers are more radical than old drivers and are more often involved in reckless driving cases compared to mature drivers. This can be attributed to the level of experience in older adults. Though this is subjective to the individual driver and can be right or wrong, it can be a reason why insurance companies charge you for insurance.

Credit score

California, Massachusetts, or Hawaii have banned the use of credit scores. Other states have allowed the use of the credit score to determine the give insurance coverage and determine how much to charge you.

Rights When Getting Insurance Cover

Race or religion- no insurance company has a right to turn you down for an insurance cover or charge you more because of your race or religion it is illegal. Color and nationality are also no reason for being charged higher for an insurance cover.

  • Gender or Age - Unless proven beyond reasonable doubt that these factors will lead to increased risk no insurance company is allowed to discriminate on such grounds.
  • Credit Score - The states of Massachusetts, Hawaii, and California have banned the use of credit scores to determine the amount to charge for insurance cover. Though other states have allowed it, it is not the best way to judge a person's insurance coverage.
  • Location - Unless they can prove that the location increases the risk to your insurance cover on things such as vandalism, theft, and even accidents.

Our Colorado personal injury lawyers can help you get a favorable claim payment that helps cater to any additional costs that are a result of the collision. Book your initial consultation today and talk to an experienced attorney!

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