Hidden Danger on Colorado Roads
When Elena Ramirez woke up last Thursday in a hospital intensive care unit, she wasn’t aware that she had been in a coma for the last 18 days. She didn’t realize that she had been in a horrific auto accident. She didn’t know that her son, who had been restrained in the car, had also sustained significant injuries. And unfortunately, she didn’t realize that the driver who hit her had no insurance.
Only after Ms. Ramirez started to wake, and began combing through the enormous expenses she had accrued during her hospital stay, did she and her family come to grips with the staggering reality of their situation. Her injuries were going to affect them for the rest of her life. The cost of her medical bills, and the damage to her automobile were way beyond what her auto insurance policy covered. And since she did not elect to have any Uninsured Motorist coverage, she is now 100% responsible for her bills.
When Ms. Ramirez spoke with her insurance company, she realized she needed legal representation. She immediately contacted a local law firm which listened to her story but had to decline representing her. Because the at-fault driver had no insurance and because Ms. Ramirez had no Uninsured Motorist coverage, there was no way to recover her damages.
The above is a dramatization of actual events that are occurring every day in the Denver metro area. Despite lower premiums, a robust economy, and stricter penalties for lack of insurance coverage, Colorado ranks among the top 10 states for uninsured motorists. 1 in 6 Colorado drivers have no auto insurance.
When deciding on what auto insurance policy is right for you and your family, you should be familiar with what a good auto policy looks like, and why Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist or UM/UIM coverage is so important.
- Make sure your liability limits are commensurate with your income and assets. This is insurance talk for “if you’re a millionaire, you better have millionaire coverage.” If you make a large income and have substantial assets (houses, cars, RV’s, ATV’s, stocks, bonds), your insurance coverage needs to be substantial enough to protect your assets from personal liability. Umbrella policies often serve to accomplish this extra needed coverage.
- Don’t waive UM/UIM. While insurance coverage is mandated, people are hit by uninsured drivers all the time. If you’re injured, you need adequate coverage to compensate your damages. Since you can’t control the rest of the world, you need to take it upon yourself to protect yourself with coverage to take over where their insurance – or lack of – leaves off. When you need this coverage, you need this coverage!
- Medical Payments Coverage. Also commonly known as MedPay. Don’t waive this coverage, either. Many assume that if they have health insurance, this isn’t a necessary coverage. However, if you’re the victim of an accident and have injuries, your health insurance will expect you to pay them back out of any settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. In 2009, the Colorado legislature passed a law stating that auto insurance companies do not have the right to be paid back for Medpay used by their insureds. What this means is that if you had $5,000 medical payments coverage, this $5,000 can be used for the ambulance, emergency room, and/or any follow up care BEFORE your health insurance, and needs not be “paid back” out of any future insurance settlement/payment. This coverage is especially important if you do not have any health insurance.
These are three things to look for on your auto insurance policy, and making sure you’re properly covered now will save you and your family in the long run. If you have further questions on how you need to be covered, call The Sawaya Law Firm, or visit our Insurance Coverage Calculator.
Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.