Portland Legal Services - Joanne Reisman, Attorney at Law
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Auto Insurance - Important to Know!

Let's talk about Auto insurance and three of the most important things to know:

1.  Don't drive without insurance, even if you are a good driver: If you get into an accident and don't have insurance, and the accident wasn't your fault, an attorney would have a very hard time representing you to help you recover for your damages because Oregon law prevents uninsured driver's from recovering pain and suffering damages. (There is an exception if you were insured and the insurance has just recently  lapsed.)  Without the extra funds that come from the pain and suffering portion of your damages, there is little an attorney can do to help you collect the money needed to fully compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages and car damages because there is no extra money from which the attorney can get paid to do this work.   Also, you won't get any money for the suffering you went through. So bottom line, don't drive without insurance because even if you avoid causing any accidents, you could still be in big trouble if someone hits you and you are the one that needs help getting your damages paid.

Whether or not you the accident was your fault, under Oregon Law you will be subject to having your driver's license suspended for one year.  You may be able to qualify for a special work driving permit before your one year suspension is over, but you will have to show proof of insurance to get that permit.

2.  Every Oregon Insurance policy includes PIP (Personal Injury Protection) which means you get up to $15,000 of your related medical bills paid the first year, no matter who is at fault, and you get 70% of your lost wages reimbursed up to $3,000.00 per month.  So you don't need to panic and settle your case because you are worried about the fact that you can't work or that you didn't have medical insurance.  PIP will help you with this giving you time to talk to an attorney and get your case evaluated.

3. Make sure you raise your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage.  Under Oregon Law all policies have basic coverage of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident.  This means if you are in an accident that is not your fault and the other driver has no insurance then you can get up to $25,000.00 for your injuries from the UM (Uninsured Motorists) portion of your policy.  But $25,000.00 can't even begin to help you if you are seriously injured.   It will be exhausted with just a few days of hospitalization.  This is the one area of insurance that actually protects you and your loved ones but it is so often ignored, and it is usually very inexpensive to increase the coverage.

UM also becomes UIM (Under-Insured Motorists) if you are hit by a driver with less insurance coverage then what you have.  Keep in mind that many other driver's only have the minimum insurance, $25,000 to pay you if they injure your.  It would be wise to get as much UIM coverage as you can afford.  UIM only works to the extent that you buy coverage greater than what the other driver has.  The amount of your policy is not added to the amount of the other driver's, rather the amount of the other driver's is subtracted from your UIM and you get the difference.  So if you have $50,000.00 of UIM coverage and the other driver has only $25,000.00, you could get an additional $25,000.00 from your policy for a total of $50,000.00 (but you would not get $75,000.00).  This is another reason to aim for the highest coverage you can afford, ideally a million dollars worth of additional coverage.  It may sound like a lot but it is relatively cheap, especially if you have a good driving record.

Keep in mind that UM/UIM insurance does not cover your car.  You must also carry full coverage insurance if you want your property damage covered as well!
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