Car Insurance and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

New Jersey requires all owners of any vehicle principally garaged in New Jersey to maintain at least minimum liability coverage in car insurance. However, although it is the law, practice and experience have shown that this is not always the case. As such, it is now the law that uninsured motorist coverage be an option on your policy. In fact, this is standard coverage provided in a “standard” New Jersey car insurance policy. However, uninsured coverage is not provided in some lower priced options of insurance, and drivers may opt out of uninsured motorist coverage.

It is important to protect yourself when choosing the extent of uninsured motorist coverage you wish to purchase. Should you be injured due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist, your own insurance is that which may compensate you for your injuries and losses secondary to that motor vehicle accident. Further, should you be injured as the result of the negligence of a “hit and run”, you may also turn to your uninsured motorist coverage for compensation.

Be careful when considering the purchase of a “basic” insurance policy. Although this policy may be lower in price at purchase, it may end up costing you in the long run, as a “basic” policy generally does not include coverage for liability for personal injuries to others and does not provide uninsured motorist coverage to the purchaser. In addition, new “special” policies are also much lower in price, but do not provide such coverage to the purchaser. Further, should you be involved in an accident involving another driver with a “basic” policy, they are considered to be insured for purposes of liability coverage and therefore you are not covered by your uninsured motorist coverage, although perhaps by your underinsured coverage. Should the other driver have a “special” policy, for purposes of liability, that driver is considered to be uninsured, and again you may turn to your own uninsured motorist coverage for compensation.

Regardless of whether you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, a driver with a “special” policy, or involved in a “hit and run”, you may be looking to your own insurance for coverage for injuries and losses. However, coverage for your injuries and losses is not a matter of right just by virtue of being injured in that accident. You must still prove that the other driver or “phantom” vehicle that left the scene was the cause of the accident. In addition, there is consideration given to the extent of your liability in the accident when determining whether payment will be made.

Unfortunately, many people purchase the least expensive, minimum coverage when purchasing motor vehicle insurance. Although this may provide for lower payments, you may not have sufficient coverage to compensate you for your losses should an accident with personal injuries occur. It is important to understand what coverage is provided through your policy and what protections are in place for you and you family, as you will be bound by them should an accident occur.

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