Liability insurance is required for vehicle owners in most states. While the additional bill might seem frivolous, it can be really valuable protection down the road. Should you ever find yourself at fault in an accident, liability insurance will help you pay for any claims made by the other driver.
There are two types of liability coverage, including property damage liability coverage and bodily injury liability coverage. You may be required to carry one or both types, depending on the state in which you reside.
Even though it’s likely you pay monthly for this type of insurance, you may not be sure what does and does not fall under the umbrella of liability. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know.
Most specifically, we’ll help you answer the questions, “Will liability cover a stolen car? And if it doesn’t, are there other ways to protect yourself?”
Remember, Morgan & Morgan is here to provide you with legal guidance. Reach out to us today using our convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Am I Required to Get Liability Insurance?
The laws regarding which kinds of insurance and how much coverage you need depend on the state where you live. Generally speaking, there are five types of insurance that a vehicle owner may be required to obtain. These include:
- Uninsured motorist coverage
- No-fault/personal injury coverage
- Rental insurance
- Physical damage insurance
- Liability car insurance
Every state, with the exception of Florida, requires drivers to obtain bodily injury liability insurance. And all states require drivers to obtain property damage liability insurance. So in answer to the question, “Am I required to get liability insurance?” The response is, overwhelmingly, yes.
Additionally, around half of U.S. states require uninsured motorist coverage as well. And a few states even require personal injury coverage on top of everything else.
All this being said, we don’t recommend that you simply purchase the minimum coverage required by your state and call it a day. Instead, you should give careful thought to the decision to pay for more insurance to further protect yourself in the event you are involved in an accident.
What Does Liability Coverage Actually Include?
The answer to this question depends on which type of liability insurance you currently pay for. For bodily injury coverage, you will be protected if you ever cause an accident that results in another person’s injury. Bodily injury coverage will usually take care of any medical expenses the person acquires.
If you have property damage coverage, you’ll be protected in the event that you cause an accident that results in damage to another person’s property. For example, if you rear-end another vehicle, this coverage will pay for the repairs.
Considering that the average accident can result in both bodily injury and property damage, you may want to invest in both types of coverage. That’s assuming that you don’t live in a state in which both types are required by law. But keep in mind that there are limits to liability coverage.
Typically, the insurance provider will only pay for damages up to a certain point. If the costs of damages or injuries exceed the minimum threshold you are paying for, you could be liable for those out of your own pocket.
Will Liability Cover a Stolen Car?
The purpose of liability insurance is to pay for any damages or injuries that result from an accident you cause. As such, this kind of insurance does not protect you from the expense of having your vehicle stolen. It also does not protect you from any damages that happen to the vehicle after it’s stolen.
Unfortunately, a stolen car can leave you with many unexpected expenses, including:
- Theft of additional personal items left in the vehicle, like wallets and devices
- Break-in damages like broken locks, smashed windows, or a damaged ignition
- Accident damages that may happen after the vehicle is stolen
If you want to protect yourself in this scenario, you might want to spring for comprehensive car insurance. Keep reading and we’ll describe the benefits that comprehensive insurance can provide.
How Common Is Car Theft?
According to the FBI, the rate of motor vehicle thefts comes out to 219.9 per 100,000 U.S. residents. Unfortunately, this number seems to rise with each passing year. And, according to some reports, the pandemic may be causing an even further spike in car theft crimes.
So, if you are on the fence about paying for additional insurance coverage, now may be the time to make the leap. You won’t regret spending a little more for peace of mind in the event that your vehicle is stolen.
What Should I Do If My Vehicle Is Stolen?
At Morgan & Morgan, we advise our clients to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. If you live in an area where crime rates are high, you may wonder what you should do in the event that your vehicle is stolen. In those circumstances, we recommend that you take the following steps.
1. File a Report
The first 24 hours are crucial if you hope for authorities to find your vehicle in good condition. That’s why we recommend you file a police report as soon as possible. Be sure to describe the make, model, and appearance of your vehicle. Other details, like the date and time of the theft, will be helpful as well.
2. Make an Insurance Claim
The very next call should be to your insurance provider, assuming you have comprehensive coverage. Give your insurance representative as many details about your vehicle and the circumstances as possible. That way, they can create a more accurate assessment with regards to the payout you might receive.
Any time you submit a claim to insurance, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your policy number
- The contact information of your lender
- Mileage, service records, and other details about your vehicle
- The contact information of anyone who had access to the car
- The car’s title
Be prepared for the provider to also run a credit check on you. Because of the prevalence of insurance fraud, this will help your insurance company determine whether further investigation is necessary.
3. Have the Vehicle Inspected
Once the vehicle is found, be sure to take it to a reliable mechanic. Sometimes thieves will ransack the vehicle for parts. To be sure your car isn’t missing any pieces that are unobvious to the eye, have it inspected by a professional.
4. Call Your Attorney
If your insurance provider is making the recovery process difficult, or if you believe you deserve more than they are offering, call Morgan & Morgan. We can help you determine the next best steps.
Should I Consider Comprehensive Insurance Instead?
As we mentioned, comprehensive auto insurance is your best bet for protecting yourself in the case of theft. But is this option really a good fit for your situation? Here’s a general overview to help you in your decision.
Comprehensive insurance offers coverage for theft and damages that are not caused by a collision. If you plan to lease or finance your vehicle, odds are high that this type of coverage will be required by the lender. But if you paid for the vehicle yourself, you may still opt to invest in comprehensive coverage if you worry about any of these scenarios:
- Civil disturbances (like riots or looting)
- Natural disasters
- Damage caused by animals
- Falling objects
If you feel that you are at high risk of any of these scenarios, you may want to invest in the additional coverage. That way, you can expect payment for any repairs or replacements you have to make if you experience any of these occurrences.
Keep in mind that comprehensive coverage does not apply to any scenario involving a collision. It won’t cover you for any damages or medical expenses that result from an on-road event.