If you live in New Jersey, you are required to carry auto insurance; however, auto insurance policies vary significantly. Drivers who fail to carry or maintain auto insurance coverage are breaking the law if they drive uninsured. Such drivers face fines, driver's license suspension or registration, and sometimes even incarceration.
New Jersey drivers have the option of purchasing either a Basic Policy or a Standard Auto Insurance Policy. The Basic Policy offers less protection, and costs less than the Standard Policy. The Basic Policy is a popular option among young drivers who are just beginning to work, who cannot yet afford more comprehensive coverage.
Will my insurance protect me?
In insurance terms, uninsured motorist coverage refers to when the other driver was driving without insurance, whereas "underinsured motorist coverage" refers to when the other driver's policy limit was not enough to pay for all of your damages.
The Basic Policy does not include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Now, providing that you have the Standard Policy, then you're in a better position. With a Standard Policy, if you're involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your own insurance company should pay for the damages to your vehicle caused by any of the following:
- An at-fault driver who doesn't have liability insurance,
- Any driver with inadequate liability insurance coverage, or
- Any driver with adequate coverage, but for some reason their insurance carrier refuses to pay for your damages in full.
If you only purchased a Basic Policy, then you are not protected if you're involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
If you have a Standard Policy, it is important to know that when you file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, your insurance carrier will only pay your claim if the other driver was legally responsible for the accident.
Please note that under New Jersey's comparative negligence law, you are only able to collect damages if your liability is not more than that of the other driver in the accident.
For additional information regarding uninsured motorist claims in Bergen County, contact our office to meet with Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law.