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In our experience people purchasing insurance through an agent or over the phone sometimes have little understanding of what they have purchased. Since Oregon and Washington law requires that you carry insurance, it is important to know what you have. Most policies have a Declaration Page which summarizes the coverage you have just purchased. There are many abbreviations and numbers which we explain below. The Declaration Page is followed by the fine print of your policy which may be sent to you at a later time. You should read the policy immediately and call your agent with any questions.

Automobile Insurance.

1. Liability Coverage. This is sometimes called “BI” for bodily injury. Your BI only pays for someone else’s injuries, NOT yours, if you are at fault for the collision. The other driver’s BI coverage pays for your injuries if a collision was his fault. The minimum coverage requirement is “25/50” which means that $25,000 of coverage is available for each person’s claim per accident and $50,000 is available for all claimants combined for each accident. These minimum coverage limits are generally inadequate and expose you to personal liability for an excess damage claim if you hurt someone else. Other common limits include “50/100” and “100/300”.

2. PIP (No Fault Medical Insurance). PIP is short for Personal Injury Protection. This coverage is best described as medical cost coverage. It helps you and your passengers in your own car, and potentially you or family members when you are in another car or a pedestrian. This coverage pays for reasonable and necessary medical bills (usually up to $10,000) for you and your passengers, but also covers a percentage of your documented lost income and will help pay for household help. This coverage is available regardless of fault and pays first before your primary medical insurance.

3. UM/UIM (Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage). This coverage protects you if the person who is at fault for your collision has no insurance or has limited liability (BI) coverage that will not cover your overall damages. This coverage is very important because it is your way to protect yourself from other people who are irresponsible regarding their own coverage. The policy limits you maintain on your UM/UIM coverage will be the maximum you can collect if the other person has no insurance so you should make sure you have plenty of this coverage.

4. Collision Coverage. This coverage covers your vehicle, minus the deductible, for damage from a crash.

5. Comprehensive Coverage. This is property damage coverage for your vehicle and other losses associated therewith.

6. Umbrella Coverage. This coverage is optional and starts where your other coverages for UM and liability run out. It provides an additional layer of coverage that can be used in case of losses that exceed your normal monetary limit that is set forth in your policy. If you have a lot of personal assets, this coverage is advisable.

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