AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE: What types are available, and what do they cover?

Posted by William K. Thayer | May 07, 2018 | 0 Comments

It helps to know what types of automobile insurance coverage are available, both when you are applying for automobile insurance, and after you have been in a crash – when understanding insurance can be most critical.  Below is a simple summary of common types of auto coverages.  The attorneys at our office don't mind answering questions about auto insurance coverage, so please feel free to call us if you have any questions that aren't satisfactorily answered by this simplistic summary, or your insurance agent or online research. 

Bodily Injury Liability – pays for bodily injury to others caused by an auto accident for which you are legally liable.

Property Damage Liability – pays for damages to the vehicle/property of others caused by an auto accident for which you are legally liable.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – pays benefits for injuries to you or your passengers caused by an auto accident regardless of who was at fault.  These benefits may extend to a pedestrian injured or killed by your covered vehicle.  Benefits include: medical expenses, funeral expenses, income continuation, and loss of services.

Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) – pays for bodily injury to you or your passengers caused by an underinsured driver who is legally liable.  This coverage applies whether the driver at fault is uninsured completely or is just “underinsured”.

Medical Payments coverage – pays medical benefits, similar to PIP, but without the income continuation and other side benefits available under PIP coverage.

Property damage underinsured motorists (UIM PD) – pays for damage to your automobile caused by an underinsured driver who is legally liable.  This coverage likewise applies whether the driver at fault is uninsured or underinsured.

“Other Than Collision”/Comprehensive – there may be other names for this basic coverage depending on the carrier – it is basically the coverage that pays for loss of or damage to your automobile caused by events other than a collision, such as fire, rockslides, theft or vandalism.

Collision/Physical Damage coverages – pays for loss to your auto caused by a collision.

Transportation Expense/Rental Reimbursement coverage – if you have collision or “other than collision” coverage, you can increase the amount of coverage for a rental vehicle to assist you with transportation expenses if your auto is disabled from a covered loss.

Towing and Labor Costs coverage – covers the cost for labor related to your auto being disabled and towing it to the nearest repair shop.

Emergency Road Service coverage – insurer will reimburse you or pay the provider of emergency road service expenses incurred by you in connection with the use of your covered vehicle.

Customizing Equipment/Excess Electronic Equipment coverage – if you have collision or “other than collision” coverage, and you installed customized special equipment or additional sound or electronic equipment in your vehicle that is worth more than the minimum amount otherwise covered by your policy, some policies let you add more coverage insuring the customized equipment.

Auto Loan/Lease/Loan Payoff Coverage – covers the gap between what you owe for your automobile and its market value if it is a total loss.

Death, Dismemberment, Loss of Sight coverages – occasionally auto policies contain this coverage which pays a set amount (typically $5,000 or whatever your insurance company sets the amount at in your policy) in death cases.  Some policies wrap in coverage for accidents which cause you dismemberment (of an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger, or thumb) and/or loss of sight.

Again, if the above descriptions leave you with any questions, feel free to call.  Also, see our other articles on this website (several are referenced below) that address the wisdom of making sure you have not just liability coverage but also UIM and PIP coverage, with higher than minimal policy limits, and if you can afford it an excess or umbrella coverage that applies to your UIM coverage as well as your liability coverage. 

Hopefully you and your loved ones won't be involved in any future auto accidents, but if you are you will be very grateful that you had the foresight to protect your family by carrying auto insurance with sufficient policy limits especially as to each of the key primary coverages – liability, UIM, and PIP.

Schauermann Thayer website articles explaining UIM, PIP, and the wisdom of purchasing higher policy limits:

January 27, 2014 – “It’s a New Year: What should you ask your auto insurance agent?”, by William K. Thayer

February 14, 2017 – “On the importance (and affordability) of good auto insurance coverage”, by Scott A. Staples

January 19, 2017 – “Why should drivers have auto insurance?”, by Bradley J. Thayer

January 26, 2015 – “What is personal injury protection or PIP insurance?", by Scott W. Edwards

January 19, 2015 – “What is underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance?”, by Scott W. Edwards

December 19, 2012 – “What is PIP and UIM insurance?”, by Scott W. Edwards

Related Schauermann Thayer website articles in Spanish language:

March 30, 2015 – “Qué es protección de lesión personal o seguro de PIP?”

March 26, 2015 – “Qué es un motorist bajo asegurado/sin seguro o seguro de UIM?”

About the Author

William K. Thayer

Bill Thayer is one of the founding partners of the Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards law firm. Bill is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and has been practicing law since 1980. Bill advises and represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims and litigation, including automobile collision, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian injury and death cases, dog bite cases, construction site injury claims, and a myriad of other types of injury and death claims. While many claims are settled through negotiation or mediation, Mr. Thayer has litigated, arbitrated and/or tried to verdict many cases for his clients. He is also frequently appointed by courts and other lawyers to serve as an arbitrator of tort claims. Bill enjoys writing as one of his varied recreational interests when he is not working.


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