As car accident lawyers located in Woodland Hills, we review our client’s auto insurance policies all the time. By the time we do so, it is because someone has been in a car accident and has been injured. As personal injury lawyers handling auto accidents in the San Fernando Valley, we are here to make sure our clients are properly compensated for the injuries that were caused by the accident.
Unfortunately, at that point, it is too late to talk about what insurance they should have had.
One of the first steps in helping our clients is looking at their auto insurance coverage. California law requires that all drivers have basic liability coverage of at least $15,000. It is a misdemeanor to drive without insurance. In addition, you are required to notify the DMV if you are in an accident and let them know who your insurance company is. We handle this process for our clients. Without question, this is the easy part, everyone should/must have at least the minimum required insurance coverage of $15,000.
That is not the end of the question. Liability coverage, that is coverage which will be paid out to someone you may injure if you cause an accident and serves two important functions.
Protect Yourself and Your Family: First, insurance protects you and your family. If you cause a collision, if you do not have adequate coverage, the person you hit may be able to take the money you have been saving for retirement, your child’s college education, a new home, or whatever is important to you.
Second: It protects the person you hit. That is a good thing. We should all take responsibility for our own actions. If we are careless and we hurt somebody, they should be compensated for what we have done. That is fair. That is also part of the purpose of insurance, to make sure someone we accidentally hurt is cared for, without destroying our own life. To hurt someone is to take something away from them. Not to compensate them for their injury; paying for the damage to their car, paying their medical bills, and paying for the imposition on their life (pain and suffering), is like stealing.
However, when you accidentally hurt someone, that does not mean your life should be destroyed either. That is part of the purpose of insurance. It enables us to properly compensate someone we hit, without taking away from our own life.
That brings us back to the question, “How much insurance should I have.” The answer to that question is going to depend on your income and your savings. If you have limited assets and limited income, you can likely only afford basic coverage. You can drive legally and provide some protection to someone you injure. If you have a lot of assets, you should probably have an umbrella insurance policy. To qualify for an umbrella policy, you will have to have a certain amount of auto insurance. Those people will probably need to have $250,000 in liability coverage.