As a car accident lawyer with Gold, Khourey and Turak, I have dealt with many different insurance companies over my nearly 25 years of practice. I can safely say that I’ve probably handled car accident claims with every major auto insurance carrier doing business in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. As a result, I am often asked if one insurance company is better than the other or what I think is important when purchasing an automobile insurance policy. Here are some important factors to consider when selecting an insurance company:
1. Car Insurance Price
There is no mistaking that for most people price is a very important consideration when buying insurance. Sit down and watch any sporting event on television and you’ll see endless insurance company commercials telling you they have the best rates. Let’s be honest, people don’t like paying for insurance and try to pay as little for it as possible. Insurance is one of those things you buy “in case you need it” but until then it seems like you’re paying for something and getting nothing in return. It’s not uncommon for people to pay their premiums year after year and never make a claim. Insurance companies know that people look at automobile insurance, for example, as a commodity and care more about the price than loyalty to a particular company. That’s why so much of insurance advertising is centered around price. While price shouldn’t be the sole factor in your decision, it is important.
2. Auto Insurance Coverage
Even though paying for car accident insurance might seem like a necessary evil, that cannot be further from the truth. When you purchase insurance, you are buying a promise that the insurance company will be there to protect you in the event of a loss or claim. I know from years of experience representing clients that not having insurance or the right kind of insurance when you need it will cause you a great deal of both emotional and financial hardship. That’s why, regardless of the specific insurance company, it is more important to make sure you are purchasing the right insurance with adequate limits to protect you and your family in case of an accident.
Fortunately, most major automobile insurance companies use very similar insurance policies and offer nearly identical standard coverage to their customers.1 When you’re comparing what is and what is not covered under a standard auto or homeowner’s insurance policy, chances are you’ll find very little difference between the different companies. Nevertheless, it is very important to understand what the policy offers and if it’s adequate for your needs. For example, most standard automobile policies do not provide coverage for you or your car if you’re using your car for a commercial purpose. So, if you’re an Uber or Door Dash driver, a standard automobile policy probably will not cover you if your involved in an accident while working. When shopping for insurance, it’s important to ask questions about the coverage and how it would apply to your circumstances. Make sure you explain to the insurance company or the agent how you use your car and whether the insurance policy being offered will cover it in all circumstances.
The second consideration for coverages is the financial limits you choose. West Virginia requires that all automobile policies have liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This means that in the event you’re involved in an accident, your insurance company will pay a maximum of $25,000 to any one person and a maximum of $50,000 for the entire accident regardless of the number of people or claims involved. Of course, you can purchase more coverage and it is not uncommon to see some people with limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The more coverage you buy, the more your insurance will cost. Again, you need to look at your specific needs.
While it may be enticing to only purchase minimum limits in order to save a buck, minimum coverage is not going to provide you with much protection. For example, if you cause a serious accident, $25,000 might not be enough insurance to cover the other person’s claim. In that case you could be personally liable for any damages over and above the $25,000 limit. If you own your home or have a retirement account or a savings account, you could be risking these assets by not having enough insurance to protect you and your family.
It’s important to discuss with your insurance company what your risks are, do you have assets that could be exposed to a claim, and then set your limits accordingly. Don’t base your decision solely on how much the insurance costs because the cost to you in the long run can be devastating.
3. Quality Customer Service
Lastly, you want an insurance company that’s going to stand with you when you have a claim. Whenever a claim is made, an insurance company needs to be given an opportunity to investigate the claim and determine whether it will need to pay out on it. To do this, the insurance company will need to gather certain information and will need your cooperation. To that end, you will need to work with the insurance company to facilitate its handling of the claim. Regardless of whether a person is making a claim against you or you’re making a claim against your own insurance, you want an insurance company whose adjusters and agents are courteous and respectful, and a company that will process the claim in a professional and timely manner.
Furthermore, the insurance company’s requests of you should be reasonable.
For example, if the company is investigating your injury claim stemming from a car accident, does it really need to gather your complete medical history for the last 20 years?
- Is the insurance company promptly responding to your letters or phone calls?
- Are they taking your claim seriously and moving quickly to arrange repairs to your damaged property?
- Is there a dedicated claims adjuster assigned to your claim who is responsive to your needs and concerns?
These are important questions, and you should ask them when shopping for insurance. Different insurance companies do things differently and I’ve noticed over the years that the level of customer service across the board has declined as companies attempt to trim costs. Nevertheless, you should never feel as if you’re being taken advantage of or that the insurance company is not being completely up-front with you. Oftentimes when you’re handling a claim on your own you may feel overwhelmed or confused and this will be significantly compounded if you do not trust the insurance company you’re dealing with.
GKT Car Accident Lawyers
Shopping for the right car insurance company should not be difficult or intimidating. You want a company that you can trust to help you through the process and one that will be there for you when you need help. For more than 40 years, the accident attorneys at GKT have taken this approach when representing our clients and serving our community. While your search for the right car insurance company may be challenging, you can trust and count on the attorneys at GKT to be there for you when you need help after an accident. We can be reached 24 hours a day by calling or texting (304) 845-9750, or online through our Live Chat or by completing our online form. Our consultations are free, and you only owe us a fee when we obtain compensation for you. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us for answers.
1 Standard insurance policies can always be customized by adding optional coverages like towing, rental coverage, or accident forgiveness. In addition, there are other important coverages that may or may not be required like comprehensive, collision, and underinsured. The more coverages you add, the more expensive your policy will be.