When you purchase your car insurance, you may not anticipate ever having to file a claim. Most likely you purchase it to comply with state law and to protect yourself and your passengers "just in case."However, when the day comes that you do need the protection your car insurance offers, it is important to understand what your rights and responsibilities are as they relate to how your state addresses the issue of fault.
In all but 13 states a standard fault-assessment system is still in place. Those other 13 states have adopted a no-fault system, which is also commonly termed "personal injury protection."There are advantages and disadvantages to living in a fault state versus a no-fault state. In a fault state, when you go to get your car insurance quote, you will be given the option to purchase medical coverage as a secondary benefit in the case of injury to yourself, your passengers or others involved in an auto accident. In a no-fault state, this medical coverage is primary - and required by state law. The fault versus no-fault clause applies to medical claims only, however, and does not extend to assessments of fault for vehicle damage.
In a fault state, your insurer will reimburse you for medical damages based on the percentage of fault it has been determined that each party bears for causing the accident. In a no-fault state, each party involved in the accident will receive medical reimbursement from their own insurance carrier regardless of the degree of fault. It is also important to understand that you cannot disallow your insurance carrier from paying your medical claims in order to keep your premiums low. Insurance carriers operating in a no-fault state are required by law to reimburse for medical claims.
While you may not be able to control certain aspects of your car insurance coverage requirements due to state law, it is important to know what the advantages can be to living in a no-fault state. You can receive faster payouts on insurance claims and avoid the costly legal fees required to determine fault. In some cases, you can expect to pay lower insurance premiums because it is less costly for the carrier to assess and conduct payouts. You are also less likely to incur personal legal expense in defending a claim. Finally, since premiums are often more affordable in no-fault state, it is more likely that the other party involved in an auto accident will also be carrying insurance.
Since no state has yet adopted a pure no-fault policy, it is always advisable to consult your insurance carrier for specifics on how your state handles fault.