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Understanding Your
Insurance Coverage

When it comes to auto insurance, your bill and the declaration page of your insurance policy may look confusing. So I'm providing a primer to help you understand what mishaps your insurance company will cover for you. While some coverages are crucial, others are desirable and some completely unnecessary. The following will tell you what types of coverages you can buy from your auto insurance carrier and hopefully, help you save some money and keep your premiums from increasing.


Rhode Island law requires basic liability insurance for personal injuries and property damage when you drive or own a motor vehicle. It covers damages that you (or the driver of your vehicle) negligently cause to other people involved in a motor vehicle accident. This type of coverage really protects your assets and your family from a judgment up to the limit of the policy. It covers damages for which you may be liable. Damages such as bills for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and funeral costs incurred by your own passengers, other drivers, their passengers, and even injured pedestrians. Other costs covered include lawyers' fees, lost wages and non-monetary losses related to pain and suffering. Rhode Island's minimum coverage limit is $25,000 which is too low to protect the assets of most motorists. TIP - Unless your income and assets are minimal, buy at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident.


Property damage liability covers repair or replacement of other people's cars and property. Rhode Island's minimum limit is $25,000. Since most new cars cost an average of $25,000, you should carry at least $50,000 in coverage.


If a hit-and-run driver, uninsured driver or someone who's inadequately insured, negligently strikes your car, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage pays for the medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages and pain-and-suffering costs of the victims in your car. This important coverage also insures you and your household members as pedestrians in the same circumstances. TIP - At a minimum you should purchase this coverage in the same limits as your bodily injury liability coverage.


"Med-Pay" as it's known to adjusters and attorneys, covers medical expenses with out regard to whether you are at fault or not. It usually is purchased in a $2500 or $5000 limit and covers any other passengers in your car and members of your household who have been injured as a result of a motor vehicle collision or pedestrian accident.


If you can afford it, collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident. If you have bought a new car with a loan, you'll be required to buy this coverage. It covers damage to your vehicle whether you are at fault or not. TIP - If your vehicle is worth $5000 or less it may not be worth purchasing this coverage. After the adjuster subtracts the deductible from the "fair market value" of your vehicle you may only receive a few hundred dollars in your pocket. Check the cost of this coverage on the declaration page of your policy, weigh it against the book value of your vehicle, and make your decision. You may save several hundred dollars a year. This may also apply to your comprehensive coverage.


This coverage will pay if your car or its contents are stolen, or damaged by fire, vandalism, water, or other perils. Lenders will also require this coverage. For both Collision and Comprehensive coverages the higher the deductible you carry, the more you'll save. A deductible of at least $500 on each coverage is advisable. For cars worth less than $5,000, comprehensive and collision probably aren't worthwhile. Over time, the premiums you'll fork over will exceed the payout, even if your car is totaled. Plus, in an accident that isn't your fault, the other driver's insurance will cover your car. (To estimate your car's market value, call or consult your local library reference desk and ask for the "fair market retail value" of your auto that's listed in the NADA GUIDE.) Make sure you have the mileage of your vehicle on hand. It may increase or decrease the value of your vehicle.


This only pays if you can't drive your car away from an accident. AAA members have towing privileges and don't need this coverage.


This costs only a few dollars per year and is a worthwhile expense if you travel and rent cars frequently because you won't have to buy the Collision Damage Waiver insurance the rental car carriers ask you to buy. You should save the expense if you don't rent cars often and can depend on another car while yours is being repaired.

If you have been involved in an accident and have any questions, please call Attorney Jim Donelan at
(401) 461-1500.


Jim Donelan handles motor vehicle accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents in the following Rhode Island areas: Barrington RI, Bristol RI, Burrillville RI, Central Falls RI, Charlestown RI, Coventry RI, Cranston RI, Cumberland RI, East Greenwich RI, East Providence RI, Exeter RI, Foster RI, Glocester RI, Hopkinton RI, Jamestown RI, Johnston RI, Lincoln RI, Little Compton RI, Middletown RI, Narragansett RI, New Shoreham RI and Block Island RI, Newport RI, North Kingstown RI, North Providence RI, North Smithfield RI, Pawtucket RI, Portsmouth RI, Providence RI, Richmond RI, Riverside RI, Scituate RI, South Kingtown RI, Tiverton RI, Wakefield RI, Warren RI, Warwick RI, West Greenwich RI, West Warwick RI, Westerly RI, Woonsocket RI, Kent County, Providence County, Washington County, and through out South County, Newport County, East Bay and West Bay.


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