5 Things You Might Not Realize About Oregon Car Insurance Laws
As personal injury specialists our attorneys often find themselves dispelling common misconceptions about what the law in Oregon is regarding car insurance. Below are some of the more common such misconceptions:
1. The insurance company decides where my car can be repaired
Wrong! In Oregon you have a right to choose where your car is repaired. Often, the insurance companies will establish “repair networks” with various auto-body shops and “encourage” you to take your car to one of those shops. Some, less scrupulous insurance adjusters might imply you have to take your car to one of their shops. But that is not true. You have a right to choose where your car gets repaired.
2. I have 30 days of insurance coverage when I buy a new car
This is a common misconception. There is no law or statute in Oregon which automatically provides you with insurance coverage for a newly purchased car. Every insurance policy will have terms in it spelling out how many days you have to notify them of the new purchase. If you fail to comply with the terms of your insurance policy you will NOT be covered. Some companies do allow you 30 days to notify them, not all. Be sure to talk to you agent about this or review your policy. It is always best to notify your insurance agent immediately after purchasing a vehicle to be sure you have proper coverage.
3. Full coverage means I have the maximum available insurance coverage
Let me be blunt – there is no such thing as “full coverage”. Car insurance is comprised of various factors such as:
a. Liability policy limits
b. Personal Injury Protection benefits
c. Comprehensive/collision coverage
d. Car rental coverage
e. Emergency road-side assistance coverage, and more.
Some people have coverage that covers all of the above, but still carry only minimum liability limits. Others may have high liability limits, but because they have an old vehicle do not carry collision coverage. Make sure you talk to your agent about all the coverage available and what may be appropriate for you.
4. Increasing my policy limits only protects me if I get sued
The minimum liability limits in Oregon is $25,000 per person $50,000 per claim. That means that if you are at fault for causing a car accident your insurance company will pay up to $25,000 per person up to a total of $50,000 per claim. If you hit a car causing serious injuries to four occupants, your insurance would pay a maximum of $50,000 to compensate all four. If their combined claims exceed $50,000 you would be responsible out of pocket for the remainder. This is one very important reason to increase your limits. But there is another, equally important reason to increase your limits. If you were seriously injured in a car accident by someone who only carried the minimum policy limits you would only be able to recover $25,000 from he’s/her insurance company. Often, $25,000 will not be enough to compensate you for your medical bills, wage loss, rehabilitation, pain & suffering. While you can sue the at-fault driver, in all probability they are judgment proof; they don’t have any assets to cover your claim. However, if you had higher policy limits on your own policy you would be able to make a claim with your own insurance company for additional compensation. This is why carrying higher limits is always recommended. It is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from underinsured drivers.
5. My health insurance will pay for medical bills after a car accident
Not true. In the state of Oregon, every automobile insurance policy includes coverage for personal injury protection benefits (PIP for short). Your car insurance PIP benefits will pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment resulting from the accident up to the policy maximum. In Oregon, every PIP policy includes at least $15,000 in medical benefits incurred the first year after the car crash. You can talk to your insurance agent about increasing that benefit by dollar amount or time.
The above information is NOT a substitute for legal advice and should not be interpreted as the dissemination of legal advice. It is only meant as general guidance on various issues which may be applicable to your situation. It is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney before taking any legal action or have specific questions addressing your particular case answered.