Why Auto Insurance Is A New York State Necessity

Winter weather means the start of icy roads, slippery streets and treacherous conditions for drivers and motorists. Michael Bergman, Esq, is a partner at Bergman, Bergman, Fields & Lamonsoff, LLP, one of the leading firms in New York State representing victims of automobile, motorcycle, construction and slip/trip and fall accidents, as well as victims of medical malpractice. For more than 25 years, Bergman and his team have exclusively handled personal injury matters.

“We represent people seriously injured in accidents, very often, automobile accidents,” said Bergman of the firm that was founded in 1957.

It may seem like a no brainer, but there are some people who let their insurance lapse and operate vehicles that do not have automobile insurance. According to Bergman, New York State mandates that every motor vehicle registered in the state must have, at the very least, the minimum required vehicular insurance. He noted that all too often, people rush to purchase car insurance and don’t really look at the fine print.

“No one ever expects to have an accident when they’re purchasing their insurance policy,” said Bergman. “People often say ‘I want to make sure I protect my assets.’ But what does that really mean?

When purchasing car insurance, you need to look at both adequately protecting your assets and also protecting yourself for medical bills, loss of income and being injured by a vehicle that either has no or little coverage.

All New York insurance policies must provide medical and lost earnings coverage up to $50,000 per person, known as No Fault insurance coverage, regardless of which vehicle’s driver is at fault, the insurance covering the vehicle is accountable to pay the medical bills and lost earnings claim.

Michael Bergman is a partner at Bergman, Bergman, Fields & Lamonsoff, LLP

However, Bergman notes that all insurance policies are not created equal and that people need to purchase more than the minimum.

The good news that your insurance coverage follows you. If you are in a vehicle which is not your own when you have an accident, and that vehicle only has a minimum policy, you may be protected by your own policy with greater limits. Even if your own vehicle was not in the accident, if you are hurt, and your own No Fault coverage provides higher benefits that the vehicle you are in, you may be able to access your own policy.

In addition to No Fault coverage, auto insurance policies written for New York registered vehicles must carry liability and property damage coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This variety of coverage is earmarked for compensation of pain and suffering. Not all policies are created equal. Higher limits for coverage like this could provide ample protection for injured people. The minimum coverage limit is $25,000 per person, which is inadequate to compensate someone who has major injuries.

If a negligent driver attempts to leave and/or refuses to provide the information, at the very least, make sure you obtain his license plate number. New York State provides access to registration and ownership information via license plate number. Your attorney may ascertain all need information from the license plate number. Take pictures of the vehicles and, if you are able, where they are in the street after the accident.

Following the accident, insurance carriers typically swoop in to obtain a written or recorded statements. They prefer to do this when you are not represented so contact an attorney immediately.

Immediately after an accident it is virtually impossible to know the long term effects of an injury, it’s about understanding the diagnosis and long term consequences this injury will have on them. Then you enter into negotiations.

Insurance carriers have their own methods of determining rates. Liability coverage, only covers you up to the policy limits you choose. Minimum liability coverage in New York State is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence.

Aside from the basic No-Fault that is mandatory, you should purchase Optional Basic Economic Loss coverage (OBEL), which provides an additional $25,000 of coverage once the $50,000 basic no-fault is exhausted. Another available option is Additional Personal Injury Protection (APIP), for an additional $100,000 or $150,000 of No-Fault benefits.

For more information, visit www.selectattorney.com.

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Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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