I work with injured people in Oklahoma. Many times the issue of insurance is key in a motor vehicle collision. While this state (and many others) requires drivers to carry liability insurance, it does not require a person to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist or U.M. coverage protects you when you are injured by another driver who has no insurance, or not enough insurance. The minimum liability coverage a person must carry in Oklahoma is $25,000.00. Recent studies have indicated that 1 out of every 4 drivers in Oklahoma is uninsured. This means that you have a 25% chance of being hit by a person with no insurance coverage at all. Many others only carry the state mandated minimum, which will not be enough for the medical treatment and damages associated with serious injuries.
An insured person in Oklahoma must be offered U.M. coverage at certain times and in certain circumstances, but some insurance agents tell people that the coverage is not necessary or is not required. Oklahoma insurance companies must receive a written waiver from one of the named insureds, which means your spouse could have waived this coverage on your behalf.
In Oklahoma a person is allowed to buy U.M. coverage in an amount up to the liability policy limits they purchase to protect other drivers. U.M. coverage is “dollar one” coverage in Oklahoma and can be paid out to an insured person, even if the liability insurance company for the driver that hit you has not acted yet. I have seen many people with bills for medical treatment and lost wages well in excess of the liability insurance limits of the adverse driver. Finding out then that you do not have U.M. coverage can make a bad situation even worse. Purchasing U.M. coverage is about protecting yourself, your family and the people who ride with you. It just makes sense.
Another valuable coverage you may want to look into is medical payments coverage or medpay. Medical Payments Coverage provides money for reasonable and necessary medical treatment after an accident, if the vehicle involved had medpay coverage you can be reimbursed for out of pocket medical bills, or the payments can be made directly to the provider. Medpay benefits are paid a the expense are incurred, and can be used regardless of whether liability coverage may be paid later. Anyone who has been through a liability claim can tell you that months can pass with medical bills owed before a settlement is reached. During that time medical bills may be placed in collections, and the pressure you feel to pay these bills may cause you to accept a settlement you shouldn’t. Medpay also pays regardless of fault, so if you are in an accident that was your fault your medpay coverage is still available for any injuries you may have suffered.
Finally, a few words of caution on medpay coverage. The coverage is vehicle specific, meaning if you have the coverage on vehicle “A” and you are in vehicle “B” at the time of the accident there is no coverage. Get this coverage on each vehicle you own. Next, if you receive medpay under another person’s policy (ie. You were a passenger in their vehicle) Those benefits can be recovered from any liability settlement you later receive, this is called subrogation. Finally, many people have medpay with very small policy limits. $1000.00 in medpay will pay $1000.00 in medical bills. That may not cover your emergency room stay. The good news is that this coverage is relatively inexpensive, so examine your limits and get the coverage you want.
Uninsured motorist insurance and medical payments insurance, protect the people in your vehicle. Finding out that the other driver has little or no insurance after an accident can turn a bad situation into a devastating situation. Think about this when you review your insurance policies. You can also receive free information from the Oklahoma State Insurance Department.