Episode 7: KPA’s Kurt Reibling is joined by Beth Combs from Gallagher Insurance. Today’s topic involves questions you should ask your auto insurance agent. Many people who come to KPA are involved in car wrecks. Unfortunately, once the collision occurs, there’s no way to go back to change your automobile insurance coverage. This episode will provide some proactive information you can use, before you or a family member is involved in a motor vehicle accident (“MVA”).
Gallagher is an insurance brokerage company, founded in 1927. Beth’s previous agency merged with Gallagher two years ago. She’s been involved in insurance for the past 40 years. During the last 30 years, she’s worked as an independent agent. Beth focuses property and casualty policies covering homes, automobiles, umbrellas, water crafts, motorcycles and other items.
Insurance Broker vs. Captive Agent
Gallagher represents multiple lines of insurance. She has about 8 different carriers she can quote to get you a competitive price on your insurance coverage and premiums. They tend to shop those prices when it’s time to renew a policy, to ensure they add value for their clients.
A captive agent (“direct writer”) doesn’t have those multiple carriers. They typically represent one company, such as State Farm, Allstate, etc.
Kentucky No-Fault Coverage (“PIP”)
In Kentucky, insured drivers and their passengers in Kentucky are covered by personal injury protection (“PIP”). This provides a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for medical bills and lost wages, loss of service and funeral expenses. This is $10,000 for the driver and each passenger, individually. It’s called no-fault because it automatically provides the coverage, regardless of which driver is at fault.
KPA Can Provide Quick Medical Treatment for an Auto Accident
Kurt explains that serious injuries may result in the person being taken directly to the ER. However, if that’s not the case, KPA can perform those initial exams and provide treatment for the injuries and pain.
Unfortunately, an ER visit can result in multiple exams and tests, that can easily absorb that $10,000 in PIP benefits. Louisville attorney David Bryce Barber specifically discussed this issue in Episode 5. Roughly 90% of the patients KPA sees have not gone to the ER.
KPA does not require pre-approvals to treat the injured driver and/or passengers. They focus on taking care of the patient first.
Uninsured Motorist and Under Insured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
Beth discusses the different between UM and UIM coverage. These cover bodily injury, not property damage. Uninsured motorist coverage is there when the at-fault driver who crashed into you is driving without insurance. If you have UM coverage, it can cover your injuries up to the policy limits.
UIM coverage is there to cover the difference between the at-fault driver’s policy limit and any remaining medical bills you incurred. Kentucky’s state minimum coverage is $25,000. If the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in coverage and your medical bills are $75,000, your UIM can cover the remaining $50,000.
Beth explains that your own policy’s PIP coverage, UM coverage and UIM coverage can be increased. It’s often fairly inexpensive to significantly increase the amount of insurance available to cover you. It’s one of the questions you should ask your auto insurance agent.
Can KPA Treat an Uninsured Driver?
If a driver doesn’t have auto insurance, there’s no PIP coverage. However, Kurt recommends that person hire a personal injury attorney to help him/her pursue the at-fault driver. KPA can work on a lien, which allows KPA to provide treatment. The lien enables KPA to receive payment, once the accident claim has been settled. Again, KPA is focused on getting the injured person medical treatment.
What’s an Umbrella Policy?
Beth discusses what they are and how these policies are used. An umbrella policy is a liability policy with a minimum of $1,000,000 in coverage. It protects your auto and home in the event that you are the at-fault driver. Beth explains it sits “on top of your primary policies.” It can also be written for UM/UIM policies. This might be one of the questions you should ask your auto insurance agent.
Motorcycles are typically excluded from your automobile policy. So, if you have a motorcycle, you should have a separate, motorcycle insurance policy. Gallagher currently has 2 carriers who cover motorcycles.
PIP coverage is often rejected by motorcyclists, due to the expense. If you’ve done this, you will not receive PIP benefits.
Motorcycle Accidents and Brain Trauma
KPA has the capability to diagnose brain injuries. They often go undiagnosed in ERs and other types of immediate care facilities. Brain injuries occur in motorcycle accident and motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a permanent injury. A TBI can result in speeds as slow as 17 miles per hour.
Kurt explains how your major-medical health coverage may limit the amount of treatment you can receive. This is a key issue with brain trauma, which could require extensive treatment and rehabilitation. Having the proper coverages in place for your automobile (such as increase policy limits or increased UM/UIM coverage) can provide a significant safety net. Obviously, having a good personal injury attorney can also potentially secure a settlement for your damages.
If I Loan My Car to a Friend, Am I Liable?
Beth explains that the insurance follows the vehicle. Even if you’ve loaned your car to someone, it’s your insurance on the line, if they cause a wreck. Now, if you borrow a car and cause an accident, it’s the car’s owner who is primarily liable and your insurance is secondarily liable.
It doesn’t matter if the person is a friend or family member. The insurance follows the vehicle. This is a good reason not to let your teenager lend his/her car to a friend.
How often should I Shop My Insurance Coverage?
Beth reviews and compares rates for her clients during each renewal period. Not all agents do this. She can evaluate if any increases are within reason. Carriers may also offer longevity credits to entice customers to stay with them. It may make sense to shop the coverages every 3 years, or so. You really want a relationship with an agent who understands you and your needs. An insurance broker has the flexibility to both form that relationship and to help manage the premium costs.
If a direct writer (“captive agent”) agrees to look for discounts, there’s a good chance he/she may be changing or eliminating coverages to get to a better price. That reduced coverage could easily become something you really needed, if you have a claim.
When Should My Child Have a Separate Automobile Insurance Policy?
Beth recommends that you should think about your taxes. If you still claim him/her as a dependent, you may want to keep him/her on your coverage. This includes if he/she is away at college.
If your son or daughter is living in a separate location, paying his/her own rent and driving the car, he/she should have a separate policy. Again, this is an important question you should ask your insurance agent.
To contact Beth Combs at Gallagher:
Phone: (502) 415-7053
We’d like to thank Beth Combs from Gallagher for sharing her knowledge and experience with us.
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