Although we hope we will never be in a car accident, chances are every driver will at least experience a fender-bender, if not worse, during their lifetime. According to the National Safety Council, over 4.4 million people were injured in car accidents in the United States in 2019 and required medical attention. More than 38,800 lost their lives.
So, are you prepared if that happens to you? Is your family prepared for such event?
This article will help you prepare for the worst while providing for and hoping for the best, and is advice from the office of a prominent life insurance lawyer in Philadelphia.
Maintaining the Necessary Insurance Policies
This is the first type of insurance that protects both you and your passengers if anyone is injured in a car accident, and your vehicle if it is damaged. Most states require car owners to purchase and maintain some form of auto insurance.
The law differs state-by-state as to how insurance works when there is a car accident. Many states are “no-fault” states, meaning that a driver need not show that the other driver was at fault in order to be paid the policy benefit for medical expenses and property damage. Other states are “at-fault” states where the drivers often must litigate the issue of fault, and if a driver is more than 50% responsible for the accident, that driver and their insurance must pay.
If you live in an “at-fault” state and are concerned about the possibility of being in an accident and being found at fault, consider purchasing PIP (personal injury protection) insurance, which will pay you regardless of fault.
If your family’s primary breadwinner is killed in a car accident, how will your family replace that income stream? Term life insurance is your least expensive solution.
Typically, the primary breadwinner will complete an initial application and medical questionnaire, and in some cases, submit to a medical exam. The life insurance company will write the policy taking into consideration the risk that the insured will die within the policy term. Factors such as age, medical history, current health, medications, and lifestyle habits will affect risk assessment. Those at greater risk will pay higher premiums, those at lower risk, lower premiums.
The insured will then pay policy premiums for the duration of the term, which may be 10, 20, 30 years, for example. If the insured dies within the policy term, the insured’s named beneficiaries will receive the death benefit on the policy.
The amount of life insurance you purchase will depend upon the income of the primary breadwinner and the family’s anticipated expenses. For example, a young couple with two small children might purchase a 30-year $500,000 policy to pay off a relatively new mortgage and pay the children’s education expenses. An older couple with grown children might purchase a 20-year $100,000 policy to pay off the last of the mortgage, supplement the retirement income of the surviving spouse, and provide for end-of-life expenses.
Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance (“AD&D”) can often be purchased as a rider on term life insurance. AD&D insurance will pay an additional amount to beneficiaries if the insured dies in a car accident. If the insured is seriously injured in a car accident, AD&D will payout according to the seriousness of the injury.
AD&D coverage can help pay for medical expenses and replace some lost income if the insured is out of work due to the injury.
Group Life Insurance Through Your Employer
Employers often offer group life insurance to their employers at no or low cost. The policy amount will be a multiple of the employee’s salary. Often, AD&D insurance can be purchased as a rider to group life insurance.
You purchase health insurance for yourself and your family, but there is always a deductible even with the most comprehensive plans. Here is where your auto insurance and your AD&D insurance will help get your uninsured or unreimbursed medical bills paid.
Income Replacement Insurance
If life insurance is insufficient to replace the primary breadwinner’s income if they are injured or die in a car accident, consider purchasing income replacement insurance. High earners often purchase this when their families are young and not even the death benefit from a term life insurance or AD&D benefits would be sufficient to replace income.
Maintain Driver Fitness
You can be proactive when it comes to car accidents and do what you can to prevent them.
Safety and Defensive Driving Classes
All drivers regardless of age or experience would benefit from an online defensive driving or driving safety course. Most auto insurance companies offer them and also offer a discount on auto insurance premiums if the policyholder and all others covered by the policy complete those classes.
Have Regular Eye Exams Performed
Night driving and driving in poor weather can become a challenge as we age and our vision changes. Be sure to have regular vision exams performed and update your eyeglass prescription as needed.
Safe Driving Tips
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Maintain awareness of your surroundings, other drivers, and possible dangers.
- Do not drive while intoxicated.
- Do not drive while impaired by lack of sleep.
- Do not drive while using drugs that impair your ability to concentrate or react.
- Do not text or perform any other distracting task while driving.
- Have all safety recalls on your vehicle performed as soon as possible.
- Keep your vehicle’s tires and brakes in good condition.
- Restrain any pets in the vehicle with a harness or in a crate.
- Drive more slowly if weather conditions mandate that.
- Do not create blind spots by packing the rear of your vehicle with items that block your view.
Safe Passenger Tips
- Always wear your seatbelt, even in the back seat.
- Children must be strapped into the appropriate child seat, and the seat installed correctly in the vehicle.
- Do not distract the driver.
- Be aware of your surroundings and alert to possible dangers.
Purchasing the appropriate types and amounts of insurance and taking these precautions does not guarantee you will never be in a car accident, but at least you will have peace of mind knowing you’ve done what you can to prepare your family.
This article was written by Veronica Baxter, a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with Chad Boonswang, Esq., a life insurance beneficiary attorney.