This article discusses the different types of car insurance coverage and how much of each type of coverage you should have. Every driver in Oregon is required to have car insurance and driving without insurance can get you a ticket and the fine of up to $427. ORS 806.010(1). If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident while driving without insurance you might not be able to recover damages for your pain-and-suffering. ORS 31.715.
There are several different types of motor vehicle insurance coverage including:
What is it? Liability coverage pays the damages of others when you are at fault for causing a motor vehicle accident. Liability coverage pays economic damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage as well as noneconomic damages for pain-and-suffering and emotional distress for people you injure in an accident.
Minimum Liability Coverage for Personal Injury $25,000 per person/$50,000 per MVA.
Oregon law requires a minimum of $25,000 of liability coverage for injuries or death to any one person and a minimum of $50,000 of liability coverage for everyone injured or killed in any one accident. ORS 806.070(2)(a). This is what is referred to as a “split limit” coverage because there is one per person limit and a another per accident limit. You must have a minimum of $25,000 of coverage for any one person injured or killed and $50,000 for each accident. In other words, you have to have $25,000 of coverage to cover each person you injure and $50,000 of coverage to cover all the people regardless how many you injure in an accident.
How much Liability Coverage should you have? Most experts recommend liability insurance coverage for personal injuries of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per MVA.
Minimum Liability Coverage for Property Damage $20,000 per MVA.
Property damage includes damage to vehicles, personal property in vehicles, and damage to buildings and other property caused by car accidents. ORS 806.070(2)(c).
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Personal Injury Protection coverage also known as PIP is like health insurance for your car. Every auto insurance policy in Oregon must have PIP coverage with limited exceptions. ORS 742.520(1).
PIP Benefits include Medical Expenses, Lost Income, Funeral Benefits, Babysitting and Help Around the House. ORS 742.524(1).
Who is Entitled to PIP Benefits?
You and passengers in your car who are injured as a result of the “use, occupancy or maintenance” of your car are entitled to PIP benefits under your auto insurance policy. ORS 742.520(2)(b). It doesn’t matter who was at fault for the accident. It doesn’t even matter if anyone was at fault.
You, others insured under your auto insurance policy, and members of your household who are injured from the “use, occupancy or maintenance” of any car are also entitled to PIP benefits under your auto insurance policy. ORS 742.520(2)(a).
You May the Entitled to Stack PIP Benefits from Multiple Policies!
The PIP insurance for the owner of the car in which the injured people were riding pays first. ORS 742.526(1)(a) & (b). If you are injured while a passenger in someone else’s car, you can recover more PIP benefits from your auto insurance policy if the PIP benefits provided by the car owner’s policy run out. ORS 742.526(1)(d). In other words, you can stack your PIP benefits onto the car owners PIP benefits to double the amount of coverage available.
Minimum PIP Coverage
Medical Expenses $15,000. Lost Income $3000 per month for 1 year. Funeral Benefits $5000. Babysitting $750. Help around the house $30 per day. ORS 742.524(1).
How much PIP Coverage should you have? I recommend having $100,000 of PIP medical benefits as increasing your PIP limits doesn’t increase your insurance premium much and you don’t have to pay for your medical treatment if your health insurer pays or refuses to pay.
For more information about PIP benefits read the following article on my webpage: What is Personal Injury Protection Insurance?
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UIM”)
What is UIM? UIM is coverage that insures you for the damages you are entitled to recover when you are injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver with no insurance or not enough insurance to pay your damages. ORS 742.500(5).
Minimum UIM Coverage Same as Liability Coverage.
Oregon law requires motor vehicle insurance policies to have the same amount of UIM as they do for liability coverage unless the insured elects lower limits in writing. ORS 742.502(2)(a).
Minimum UIM Personal Injury Coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per MVA. ORS 742.502(2)(a).
How much UIM Coverage should you have? You should have the same amount of UIM coverage as you do liability coverage. As noted above, most experts recommend liability insurance coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per MVA.
UIM Property Damage Coverage Not Required. Insurance companies are required to make uninsured property damage coverage available if you want it but you are not required to buy it. ORS 742.510(1). If buy it, you must purchase at least $20,000 of coverage per accident. ORS 742.510(1).
What is it? Collision coverage, also known as full coverage, pays for property damage to your car when you are in an accident with another car or object regardless who is at fault.
How much will it pay? Collision coverage will pay the lesser of the cost to repair or the fair market value of your vehicle on the date of the incident if it is totaled less the deductible.
What is a Deductible? A deductible is an amount that the insurance company deducts from the amount it is required to pay under the policy. For example, the insurer would only be required to pay $2500 if your vehicle sustained $3000 in damage and you had a $500 deductible. The higher deductible, the lower insurance premium.
Do you need collision coverage? If you have an expensive car, you probably want to have collision coverage because without it your insurance company will not pay to repair your car when you are in an accident that is your fault or that is not someone else’s fault.
How much should you have? With collision coverage, the question is how high of a deductible should you have. The higher deductible, the lower insurance premium. However, the higher deductible, the less the insurance company pays if you make a claim. You should have a deductible of $500-$1000.
What is it? Comprehensive coverage, also known as full coverage, pays for property damage to your car caused by something other than a MVA. Comprehensive coverage would pay if your car was stolen or vandalized or damaged by a flood, fire or other type of incident.
How much will it pay? Comprehensive coverage will pay the lesser of the cost to repair or the fair market value of your vehicle on the date of the incident less the deductible.
What is a Deductible? A deductible is an amount that the insurance company deducts from the amount it is required to pay under the policy. The higher deductible, the lower insurance premium. For example, the insurer would only be required to pay $5000 if your vehicle sustained $10000 in damage but was only worth $6000 on the date of the incident and you had a $1000 deductible.
Do you need comprehensive coverage? If you have an expensive car, you probably want to have comprehensive coverage because without it your insurance company will not pay to repair your car when it is damaged by something other than an accident
How much should you have? With comprehensive coverage, the question is how high of a deductible should you have. The higher deductible, the lower insurance premium. However, the higher deductible, the less the insurance company pays if you make a claim. You should probably have a deductible of $500-$1000.
Rental Car Coverage
Rental car coverage is coverage that pays for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired after a MVA or other incident covered by your policy.
Gap insurance pays the difference between the fair market value of your car and the balance owing on the loan used to purchase or finance the car.
Do you need gap insurance? If you borrowed money to buy your car, you should buy gap insurance because if your car is totaled in a MVA, your insurance company will only pay the fair market value of your vehicle and that will probably be less than the amount you owe on your loan.
Umbrella insurance is extra liability insurance above the limits of your homeowner’s, auto, and other types of insurance. For example, if you have auto insurance with liability limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per MVA, your umbrella insurance will pay if you injure someone in a MVA that is your fault and their damages are more than $100,000.
Do you need umbrella insurance? If you have assets such as real property with lots of equity, you should probably have an umbrella insurance policy. This is because 13% of personal injury liability awards and settlements are for $1 million or more. If you don’t have assets, you may not need umbrella insurance but you may have to file bankruptcy if you severely injure someone in a MVA and they obtain a large judgment against you.
How much umbrella insurance should you have? I recommend $1 million of umbrella coverage.
What is personal injury protection insurance in Oregon? Personal injury protection insurance, a.k.a. PIP, is what I call “health insurance for the car”. PIP pays your medical expenses, lost income, and other benefits when you are injured in a car accident. Every auto insurance policy in Oregon must have PIP coverage with limited exceptions. ORS 742.520(1).
Who can collect PIP? Anyone who is injured in a car accident can collect PIP from the auto insurance company for the owner of the car in which they were riding. ORS 742.520(2)(a). If you are injured while driving your car, your insurance company will pay PIP. If you are injured while a passenger in someone else’s car, their insurance company will pay PIP. ORS 742.520(2)(b).
Can pedestrians injured by cars collect PIP? Yes pedestrians and bicyclists injured by cars can collect PIP from their insurance company or, in certain cases, from the insurance company for the owner of the car that hit them. ORS 742.520(2)(b). (The definition of pedestrians includes bicyclists. ORS 742.518(6).)
What does PIP pay? Medical Expenses, Lost Income, Help Around the House, Childcare, Funeral Expenses.
Will PIP pay for all of my medical expenses? Yes with a few exceptions:
Can a Medical Provider Refuse to Accept PIP? Yes a medical provider can refuse to accept PIP so make sure they will accept PIP before you treat with them. If they refuse to accept PIP and you pay them directly, you can seek reimbursement from PIP but you may not get reimbursed in full as PIP is only required to pay the amount a provider is authorized to bill by the fee schedule. ORS 742.525.
How do I get My Medical Bills paid by PIP? Call the PIP insurance company and make a claim. You will need the PIP policy number to set up the claim. They will give you a claim number and the name and contact information for the claims representative handling the claim. When you go to see the doctor, make sure they will accept PIP before you treat with them. When you get to the doctor’s office, tell the person you check in with to bill PIP and give him or her the PIP claim number and name and contact information for the claims representative handling the claim.
What Do I Do if I Run Out of PIP Medical Benefits? If you use all of the PIP under the policy, you can sometimes find another policy that will provide PIP. For example, if you were injured as a passenger PIP will first be provided under the policy of the vehicle owner. If you use all of those PIP benefits, you can then make a claim for PIP under your own insurance policy if you have one. If you can’t find PIP under another policy, you can try to get your health insurer to pay your medical expenses. Beware that some health insurers will not pay for medical expenses necessitated by a motor vehicle accident that was someone else’s fault. Check with your health insurer.
Can PIP Refuse to Pay My Medical Bills? PIP can refuse to pay medical bills for treatment that was not reasonable or was not necessitated by injuries sustained in a car accident but must have some evidence to support its refusal to pay. PIP must provide you and your provider written notice of its refusal within 60 days of receiving the bill. ORS 742.528. The charges are presumed to be reasonable and necessary unless PIP notifies the provider within 60 days that it is refusing to pay the expenses. ORS 742.524(1)(a).
Can PIP Require Me to See a Doctor of Its Choosing? Yes PIP may require you to attend a medical examination to determine whether medical treatment is reasonable or necessary. ORS 742.520(7)(b) and ORS 742.518(1). This is sometimes called an independent medical exam.
Can PIP Have My Medical Records Reviewed? Yes PIP can have your medical records reviewed by one of its employees or a third party medical record or bill review service to determine whether medical treatment is reasonable or necessary. ORS 742.520(7)(b) and ORS 742.518(1).
What Should I Do Have PIP Refuses to Pay for My Medical Treatment? Contact an attorney immediately to discuss your options.
You are especially vulnerable when riding a bicycle in traffic. You should always wear a helmet and understand that the rules of the road are different as are the insurance laws. Here’s some things you should be aware of if you ride a bicycle a lot:
Rules Of The Road For Bicycles.
Insurance Laws Regarding Bicycle Accidents
I was injured as a pedestrian. What should I do?
A brief summary of what you should do when injured as a pedestrian to get your medical expenses paid.
Who is a pedestrian?
A pedestrian is someone walking, walking or riding a bicycle, or someone in a wheelchair, even if the wheelchair is powered. ORS 742.518(6).
Who Pays an Injured Pedestrian's Medical Bills?
When a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, the pedestrian's auto insurer will pay the pedestrian's medical bills under its personal injury protection coverage or PIP. ORS 742.520(1). The auto insurer for the vehicle that hit the pedestrian will pay the pedestrian's medical bills under its PIP coverage but only if the pedestrian does not have auto insurance or health insurance and is not entitled to health insurance under a state or federal plan. ORS 742.526(1)(e).
How Much of My Medical Bills will the Auto Insurer Pay?
The amount of medical expenses PIP will pay depends on the insurance policy. PIP is required to pay at least $15,000 in medical expenses under Oregon law. ORS 742.524(1)(a). Some insurance policies pay more, so make sure to get a copy of the policy and read it.
For How Long Will the Auto Insurer Pay for Medical Treatment?
How long an auto insurer will pay PIP for your medical treatment depends on the insurance policy. Auto insurance companies are required to pay for medical treatment incurred within 2 years of the MVA under Oregon law. ORS 742.524(1)(a). Some policies require the insurance companies to pay for treatment received within more 2 years of the MVA so make sure to get a copy of the policy and read it.
How can I Get the Auto Insurer to Pay My Medical Bills?
To get the auto insurer to pay your medical bills you need to file a PIP claim with the responsible insurance company. If you have auto insurance, have your insurance agent open a PIP claim. Remember you can make a claim against the driver’s insurance company if you didn’t have insurance so make sure to get the name of the driver's insurance company and policy number so you can make a PIP claim against the driver's policy. Once a PIP claim has been set up, the insurance company should give you the name and contact information of the claims representative and a PIP claim number. Make sure to bring that information with you when you see your doctor's so they can bill the insurance company providing the PIP benefits.
For more information about PIP coverage.
Read the following article on my webpage What is Personal Injury Protection Insurance in Oregon?
You can also read about PIP coverage in the following article from the Oregon State Bar Association: Personal Injury Protection.
A wrongful death suit is a case in which someone has been killed by another person’s unreasonable or negligent act. See, ORS 30.020(1) - Action for wrongful death. Wrongful death cases can result from car accidents or other types of accidents.
What should I do when a family member has been killed in an accident?
You need to do 2 things when a family member has been killed in the accident.
Who is entitled to the money recovered in a wrongful death case?
The family members who are entitled to the money recovered in a wrongful death case are those entitled to inherit from the victim under Oregon’s law of “intestate succession” as well as stepchildren and stepparents. See, ORS 30.020(1) - Action for wrongful death.
Intestate succession is a law that lists who is entitled to inherit from a family member who dies without a will.
If the person who died was married at the time, their surviving spouse is entitled to the money recovered with some exceptions. See, ORS 112.035 Surviving Spouse's Share; See Also, ORS 112.025 Surviving Spouse's Share with kids.
Surviving children and other relatives of the victim sometimes recover as well. See, ORS 112.045 Share of Others than Surviving Spouse.
What money can be recovered in a wrongful death case?
How much money can be recovered in a wrongful death case?
How much money can be recovered depends upon the victim’s age, health and income as well as the quality of the victim’s relationship with his relatives, usually surviving spouse and children, who are entitled to recover the damages awarded in the wrongful death case.
Determining how much money can be recovered requires the use of an expert economist.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within 3 years after the date your family member died with some exceptions. See, ORS 30.020(1)(a) – Deadline to file lawsuit.
Can a wrongful death claim be settled?
Yes a wrongful death claim can be settled but the settlement must be approved by the court. See, ORS 30.070 – Settlement.
When must you report a motor vehicle accident to the Oregon DMV?
1. Types of accidents you must report.
You must report a motor vehicle accident in Oregon to the Oregon DMV when:
(a) your vehicle sustained more than $1500 in damage;
(b) any other vehicle or property (e. g., building) sustained more than $1,500 in damage and a vehicle was towed from the scene; or
(c) someone was injured or killed.
2. You have 72 hours to report the accident.
You must report the accident within 72 hours of the accident. You must use the following form to report the accident: http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/32.pdf.
3. If you don’t report the accident, your license may be suspended.
If you fail to file an accident report, the DMV is required to suspend your license until you file the report even if you didn’t know that you had to file a report. DMV suspended a driver’s license for failing to file report regarding an accident in which someone was injured even though the driver did not know the person had been injured. The driver appealed the suspension but the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld it. You can read the case by following this link: http://www.publications.ojd.st guaiac ate.or.us/docs/A142425.htm.