MILWAUKEE — No one expects to be involved in a car crash but the fact is, they happen, frequently. And there often is a big price tag attached.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 2019 alone, car crashes cost Americans $340 billion.
You might be thinking... 'Sure, a crash can be very expensive, but that's why I have insurance'. Even if you are insured, if you get in a crash with a driver who does not have coverage or is underinsured, it could end up costing you a lot.
Amanda Morgan was hit by an uninsured driver and at the same time, hit by a bad case of deja vu. "I was in a situation about 10 years ago with an uninsured motorist," she recalled. "The owner was uninsured and the driver didn't have a license."
To fix the damage this time around Morgan says she paid a $600 deductible and her insurance took care of it. But she's upset that she had to spend the money when she says she was not at fault.
She's been trying to sue the uninsured driver to get compensation. "My deductible, my time lost — I had to miss work, a couple hours, to go to court so that adds up," she said as she explained the costs she's hoping to recoup.
Jason Abraham, a personal injury lawyer, says unfortunately Morgan will probably never see that money.
"I can tell you we've represented over 70,000 people since I've been at Hupy & Abraham," he said. "And I can tell you myself personally, having handled 5,000 or 10,000 cases myself — I've probably had five times where I've gotten personal money from an underinsured driver who didn't buy enough insurance."
These are the minimum liability insurance amounts in Wisconsin. You're required, by law, to have this coverage.
- $10,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person
Liability and uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory and Abraham says your insurance will step in and take control if you wind up in a crash with someone who does not have coverage or is underinsured.
"You can buy the state minimum of $25,000 / $50,000 but that's nowhere near enough, I wouldn't recommend it," said Abraham.
His advice is protect yourself with the most comprehensive policy you can afford. Don't rely on anyone else to protect you.
"If you have a $100,000 / $300,000 policy most companies will then sell you what's called umbrella coverage," explained Abraham. "That's excess coverage that applies above and beyond your initial auto policy if in fact something happens that's worse than that policy."
Abraham shared one more piece of advice: he recommends meeting face-to-face with a local agent to purchase coverage, rather than trying to buy an insurance policy online.