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Only pay for what you need in insurance? Sadly, that's a really BAD idea for drivers

By Jim Reed
Managing partner
Ziff Law Firm, Elmira

If you turn on cable TV these days, you're bombarded with advertising for car insurance. "Only pay for what you need" is one of the most pervasive messages, thanks to one persistent advertiser, and its catchphrase sums up the message from all insurers: They want you to buy the least expensive insurance that they offer. Why? Because the less insurance you buy, the less the insurance company will pay you when you have a claim and need it most.

No one wants to overspend on car insurance, but there is real danger in only paying for what you think you need. Have you heard the expression "penny wise and pound foolish"? That means sometimes paying less in the short run can cost you WAY more in the long run.

I have represented people injured in car, truck and motorcycle crashes for more than 34 years and I can tell you that there is nothing worse than being badly injured in a crash and not having enough insurance coverage to pay your medical bills and lost wages. With monstrous costs -- a Life Flight helicopter transport to the hospital alone can cost $38,000! -- what sounds like a lot of insurance coverage can be spent in no time.

So please grab your car insurance policy and see how your policy limits stack up against my MINIMUM vehicle insurance recommendations:

Liability Coverage (also called Bodily Injury in some policies) -- $250,000. This covers you if you injure someone else in a crash.

Supplemental Under Insured Motorist (SUM) Coverage -- $250,000. This covers you if you are hurt and the other driver has no insurance or insufficient liability coverage. SUM is very important coverage, and you are permitted to have SUM equal to your liability coverage.

APIP (Additional Personal Injury Protection) -- $75,000. This provides coverage over and above the required PIP of $50,000 so there is a total of $125,000 of No-Fault coverage for medical bills and lost wages.

With that said, these are minimum recommendations and more insurance is always better if you can afford it. The good news is that the cost of more insurance -- even double these recommendations -- is very low compared with the cost of what is required by New York State as minimum coverage.

It's always a good idea to ask your insurance agent: How much more would it cost me if I went with $500,000 of Liability and SUM? The answer might be a pleasant surprise, and possibly for as low as $10 more a month, you might be able to have much better coverage to protect you and your family.

Better safe than sorry!

Thanks for reading,


Photo in text: Jim Reed


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© The Odessa File 2021
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869