As personal injury lawyers, we see too many good people in bad situations because their car insurance wasn’t enough to cover the damages in an accident.
The minimum car insurance requirement for Massachusetts drivers is:
- $20,000 / $40,000 bodily injury liability coverage
- $5,000 property damage coverage
- $20,000 / $40,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
- $8,000 personal injury protection
Minimum coverage requirements for Rhode Island car insurance:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: $25,000 per accident
- Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
Bodily injury liability covers any costs related to injury of the other driver or passengers. Covering medical bills, pain and suffering, rehab costs, lost wages, and other associated costs and can be one of the most expensive results of an accident if you are found at-fault.
Property damage liability covers damages related to the other person’s property such as a car, garage door, or other structure.
But is the minimum good enough?
The short answer is, consider increasing your coverage to as much as you can afford. US drivers will average 5 accidents, most very minor, over the course of their lives. With the minimum insurance, even a small accident can make life really hard with basic or inadequate insurance. As one lawyer in our office recently told a team of business colleagues, “ If I can give you one piece of life advice, buy as much car insurance coverage as you can afford.”
What happens if I don’t have enough car insurance coverage?
If you are found liable for another party’s damages, you could be facing serious costs.
An ambulance ride alone averages around $2,000 and a basic ER checkup can be upwards of $3,000. Even if the other party isn’t hurt, their bills can get steep fast and if they are seriously injured, you could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why most states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, require drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage.
Where good choices really matter:
But what if you don’t have insurance? Simple – the injured party can come after you personally. You might have to take out loans, extra mortgages, or deplete your retirement savings. You might even have to sell off your assets—or a collector could take your assets from you.
Even if you have minimum insurance, it still might not be enough. Let’s say for example your property damage liability limit is $20,000, but you are found at-fault for $35,000 worth of damage. That means you are $15,000 over your limit and are responsible for paying the excess cost over your coverage.
In some cases, you might not need much liability insurance, especially if you have no assets to protect. If you own a home and have savings, however, you need enough liability insurance to cover their value – so be sure when choosing your coverage to add up your assets and purchase enough coverage to protect them.
Take the advice of a personal injury lawyer – cover your assets!