"I'd call your insurance agent to ask, especially if you have a relative coming to visit who will use your car," Gusner says.
2. Confusing underinsured motorist coverage
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage kicks in when the at-fault driver doesn't have enough liability coverage to pay all your medical bills after you suffer injuries in an accident. (
motorist coverage pays for medical treatment when the at-fault driver has no insurance at all.)
That might sound simple, but the payout for UIM is complicated. Why? The amount paid from the at-fault driver's liability coverage is
from the amount you can claim against your own UIM coverage.
Say, for instance, you face $50,000 in medical bills for injuries after a car accident; the at-fault driver has $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, and you have $25,000 in underinsured motorist coverage.
The payment from the other driver's policy -- $25,000 -- would be deducted from what you can claim on your $25,000 of UIM coverage. The result: Your UIM insurance would pay nothing and you'd be $25,000 short of the $50,000 you need.
Your UIM coverage must be higher than the at-fault driver's liability limits to do any good.
In some states, you can
"stack" your UIM coverage
- meaning combine the limits on two or more vehicles you've insured to get more protection. And in Connecticut, you can buy "conversion" coverage, so payments from your policy are not reduced by payments from the at-fault driver's insurance.
Gusner says you should make sure you know how your UIM coverage works and evaluate whether to increase the limits on your policy.
3. No coverage for injuries if you drink and drive
Thirty-seven states have
alcohol exclusion laws
, which allow insurance companies to deny medical coverage for injuries due to intoxication, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. That means in those states your insurance company could refuse to pay for your medical treatment if you crashed and were injured while driving and impaired by alcohol or drugs.
4. Coverage excluded for unlicensed drivers
Some policies exclude coverage if an unlicensed driver uses your vehicle and crashes. Bottom line: Be super picky about who drives your car.