What Happens When Insurance Doesn’t Cover Everything?

The worst has happened: you’re involved in a car wreck. Now, you’re facing mounting medical bills, property damage costs, and probably more expenses. Chances are you haven’t planned for these unexpected expenses, so it’s a good thing you have insurance to fall back on. 

However, insurance may not cover all damages, and this isn’t something you want to hear. So, what does car insurance cover, and what should you do when it’s not enough? Keep reading on to learn more.

Car Insurance Requirements in Colorado

Colorado has minimum auto insurance requirements that all drivers must meet, and there isn’t an exception to the minimum requirements. However, some vehicle owners may be required to meet these requirements, although this typically only applies to commercial vehicles; think of 18-wheelers, for example.

The minimum requirements for private citizens are:

  • At least $25,000 for injury or death for a single person
  • A minimum of $50,000 for injury or death for all persons involved in the same accident
  • $15,000 minimum for property damage

As you can see by the minimum amounts, the chances of your expenses being completely covered are relatively slim. For example, if your vehicle is totaled, $15,000 is rarely enough to cover the sticker price of even a slightly used car. Most medical expenses are also well over $25,000, especially if it includes a trip to the emergency room.

Recovering Damages When Costs Exceed Policy Limits

Sometimes, your car insurance will cover the gaps left by the at-fault driver’s insurance. Chances are you will need to prove fault or negligence to win your claim. This is exactly when a personal injury attorney is helpful to have on your side.

If you have uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UI) auto coverage, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem recovering your financial losses. However, every insurance company has different rules and regulations. You also need to have this type of insurance, and it’s not standard. In other words, you need to talk to your insurance agent about getting UM or UI coverage.

For those with the coverage, you’re typically protected under Colorado law. The law requires all insurance companies operating in the state to match the limits on the regular auto insurance policy. Combining the policy amounts may be enough to cover your expenses. If you’re still on the hook for accident-related expenses, as a last resort, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver in small claims court.

However, don’t get your hopes up. Even if you win your case, the defendant can only pay what they can afford. They can also file an appeal, which means going back to court.

Proving Your Personal Injury Case

Yes, even if you’re not planning on filing a claim against the at-fault driver, you’ll still need to prove your case. Insurance companies aren’t in the habit of simply settling claims based on your word. Even when your claim is approved, it may still be too low to cover everything.

Don’t give up hope or become frustrated; you can still receive an agreeable settlement that doesn’t leave you with a mound of bills.

Get Medical Attention

Before you start worrying about filing an insurance claim, take care of your health, which means seeing a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you look and feel fine, you may still have internal injuries, it can take a few days to start showing symptoms. The last thing you want is to risk your health or end up with astronomical hospital bills.

Save all of the paperwork relating to your injuries. Even if it’s just a simple checkup, save the report. You can receive compensation for the doctor’s visit, even if it’s decided you’re in perfect health.

Document the Accident Scene

Don’t turn into a CSI, even if you’re a fan of the TV show—this isn’t your job here. Instead, take pictures of your vehicle damage. 

Don’t worry about the at-fault driver’s car; let them take care of documenting their scene themselves—besides, all you may do is aggravate an already touchy situation. Emotions tend to be running high after a car wreck and you don’t want to make the situation worse.  

If you have injuries, go ahead and snap a few pictures of your wounds. Sometimes, a picture gets the insurance adjuster’s attention faster than a medical document.

Contact the Authorities

One of the first things your insurance adjuster is going to request is the police report. Filing a police report after an accident is relatively easy. 

You answer a few questions and provide some basic information, including your driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration. Don’t expect to leave the accident scene with a copy of the report. You should expect to wait about a week before it’s ready for pickup.

Add the accident report to your other paperwork, and if you lose it, don’t panic. You can easily get another copy by simply requesting one.

Assess Your Property Damage

Your property damage is your vehicle, but it can also include personal items like a smartphone or laptop, for example. Get estimates for any necessary repairs or replacement costs. 

You should try to get multiple estimates since your insurer will likely want to compare quotes. Don’t be surprised if your insurance adjuster bases your claim amount on the lowest-priced estimate.

Contact an Accident Attorney

You can contact your insurance company before talking to an attorney; however, don’t accept any settlement offer until discussing it with your attorney. The initial offer is often lower than your accumulated expenses. Once you accept an offer, you can’t file another claim for the same accident, and this applies even if your expenses continue to climb.

Before entering into negotiations with the insurance company, work with your attorney to calculate your damages, which may also include non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Once you have a general idea of the costs, you can start the negotiation process. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few meetings before reaching an agreement.

Don’t Settle for Less Than You Deserve

It’s important to remember that insurance coverage may not fully address all your needs following an accident—however, this doesn’t mean you have no further options. 

By consulting with an accident attorney, you can gain a clearer understanding of your legal rights and explore additional avenues for compensation. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance and support in navigating the legal system to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the assistance you need.