Insurance is a lot like an umbrella…

It’s kind of a pain to keep around and you rarely have it when you need it. Then sometimes you pull it out expecting it to protect you but find out quickly that it’s either too small or too cheap.

But boy you’re glad it’s there when you do actually need it and it does actually protect you.

In our line of work, we see people get frustrated with their car insurance a lot. It stinks to pay (a lot) for something you may never use. And while you’re grateful that you don’t have a reason to use it, it’s tempting to justify buying less insurance because you never use it.

And like an umbrella that doesn’t actually cover you from the rain (or worse, flips inside out with the slightest wind), paying for insurance that doesn’t actually protect you from anything is simply maddening.

But also like an umbrella that you JUST took out of your car the day before a serious rain, insurance that you JUST cancelled a few months before a serious wreck will leave you wondering if the whole universe is against you (and very likely paying a lot more money than the cost of the policy).

All that to say,

We REALLY, REALLY recommend having or adding this coverage to your car insurance policy:

It’s a common misconception among lots of people, including very intelligent people, that having the insurance required by law protects them in a car wreck. It does not. The car insurance required by Louisiana law is a liability policy, which protects the injured victim(s) in a wreck that you cause. Your liability policy does not pay for your damage at all, whether you caused the wreck or not.

Louisiana drivers are required to have a minimum limits liability auto insurance policy, but sadly many Louisiana drivers do not. An estimated 15% of drivers in Louisiana are driving around with no auto insurance coverage at all. What is worse is that 40% of Louisiana’s drivers have just the required minimum limits policy. And while you might be thinking that’s their problem and not yours, if you get into a wreck with an uninsured driver or a minimally insured driver, it will quickly become your problem. Because then there is only a minimum amount of coverage to pay you for your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and so on if the wreck wasn’t your fault.

So if there is one insurance coverage I would add to my policy beyond the minimum coverage required by law, it would be Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage (or UM Coverage as it’s often called).

If a driver has a minimum limits policy in Louisiana, they have 15/30/25 coverage. That means their policy will only pay up to $15,000 for an individual’s bodily injury, up to $30,000 total for bodily injury if there are multiple injured people, and up to $25,000 for property damage.

I can tell you from years of experience that $15,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it does not go very far when you have even mild injuries from a car wreck. If you have serious injuries…you’ll end up paying A LOT out-of-pocket for your treatment unless you have phenomenal health insurance (and is there really even such a thing??).

Moreover, if multiple people are injured, a minimum limits policy will only pay $30,000 total. I’ve got six people riding around in my car most of the time, and that’s just my family! If there were multiple cars involved, there is no way we would all be able to have all of our medical bills and pain and suffering covered sufficiently.

So again, if there is ONE additional level of coverage I would choose beyond that minimum limits policy, it would be UM coverage. I have seen too many people get stuck paying out of their own pocket for a wreck they did not cause to ever let that one go.

Another coverage that helps me sleep better at night is collision coverage. If you have collision coverage, your insurance will pay for the damage to your vehicle regardless of who was at fault for the damage. That means that if you cause a wreck, your insurance will pick up the tab for the damage to your car instead of you having to pay to get your car fixed yourself. It will also pay for the damage if someone else causes the wreck and doesn’t have enough insurance (or any) to cover your damage.

This coverage is great to have if you have a teen driver because, statistically, teen drivers are a lot more likely to be in or to cause a wreck. (Unless you want them to learn the hard way that if they wreck their car, they simply won’t have a car to drive…and I can respect that!)

It’s also great coverage to have if you have a nicer or more expensive vehicle.

If your car isn’t worth much, you might not find this coverage worth the monthly expense. It might be better to put the money you would pay for this coverage in savings.

This coverage has been a relief more than a few times for my family. Once our family vehicle had engine trouble while we were on our way out of town for Thanksgiving. We had to get a rental to get to our destination, and the cost of the rental would have been nearly $1,000 out-of-pocket if we had not had this coverage. I don’t know about you, but paying $1,000 for a car I don’t get to keep during the holidays of all times would have made me very unhappy. So paying a few extra dollars a month for rental insurance is well worth it to me.

And if a car wreck caused by someone else isn’t enough to ruin your day, having to decide between paying for a rental or not having a vehicle while you get your car fixed will certainly do it.

There are other levels of coverage you can choose to add to your auto insurance policy that would be life-savers in a time of need. My advice to friends, family, and clients is always to get as much insurance as you can afford. I hate paying for it as much as anyone else does, but I’ve seen too many clients and friends left in a real bind without it to ever justify not having extra coverage.