Understanding First-Party Coverage in Virginia, Maryland, and DC
What is No Fault Coverage?
Whenever you purchase car insurance, you are purchasing coverage that is designed to protect you in the event of a car accident. Liability insurance protects you if you are found to be at fault for the accident, and that means that the insurance company will pay up to your limits to protect you for claims relating to that accident. This is what we refer to as "third party coverage," or coverage that someone else can file a claim against.
Equally important is "first party car insurance coverage." This coverage is designed to afford you benefits in the event of a car accident, and rather than protecting someone else, it is designed to protect you. There are two main kinds of first-party coverage.
Medical Expense Payments Coverage
Medical expense payments coverage is a kind of no-fault car insurance add-on that helps you pay for medical expenses, arising out of a vehicle-involved incident, such as a car accident. What kind of coverage you can get is different from state to state, as is how it works. There are a lot of laws, and intricacies surrounding this coverage. If you have questions, it is important that you contact an attorney for professional legal guidance.
Here are the kinds of coverage available in the DC Metropolitan Area:
Virginia - First party benefits in Virginia are called medical expense payments coverage, or medpay. Uniquely, this coverage stacks up to four vehicles. So if you have two vehicles with med pay coverage, that means you take the coverage that you have on the policy (for example, $2,000), and multiply by the number of cars (say, 2), up to and including four. (So $2,000 x 2 cars = $4,000 of coverage!)
Maryland - Maryland medical expense coverage is called "personal injury protection," or PIP. Unlike Virginia, this coverage does not stack. The standard limit in Maryland is $2,500. Maryland insurance policies come with PIP, as a standard provision of the policy. However, Maryland residents are given the option of opting out of this coverage, and the insurance companies are very quick to suggest this, because you, the insured, save a couple of dollars a month. However, it is never a good idea to waive that coverage!
Washington, DC - DC also has PIP coverage, however DC PIP does not work the same as Maryland, or Virginia medpay. Instead, DC still has an antiquated tort election law, meaning that if you elect to utilize pip benefits, you are declining to pursue a third party action against the person who caused your accident, and who caused your injuries. There are times when this is appropriate, such as an accident involving significant damages, and minimum insurance coverage. You should always speak to an attorney after a car accident involving a DC car insurance policy, because you have the potential to waive a viable claim
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
UM (Uninsured), and UIM (Underinsured) coverage is a kind of first party coverage, because it comes from your car insurance, rather than the insurance of the person who hit you.
Uninsured motorist coverage can be very tricky, because of all of the laws at play, which are different from state to state. You should always speak to a car accident lawyer right away after an accident.
Insurance adjusters are very good at their jobs, and can lull some clients into a false sense of security and support. Even though an uninsured motorist claim is coming from your insurance, it is an adversarial process. Things that you say can and will be used against you by your own insurance company during an uninsured motorist claim. In order to protect yourself, you should always speak to a professional and experienced car accident lawyer
Calling A Car Accident Attorney
Some people go to insurance brokers for advice. Insurance brokers are normally wonderful people - but they get paid by the insurance companies they write policies for. They sell what they are asked to sell, and suggest that people don't get - or don't need! - the coverages the insurance companies don't make money off of. An attorney is different - at Blaszkow Legal, we are dedicated to protecting you, not insurance companies. If you have questions about what car insurance coverage you should have, call Blaszkow Legal - 703-879-5910
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