Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Insurance In New York

Despite the fact that almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry auto insurance, many people choose to drive without insurance. A recent study showed that the number of uninsured drivers on the road in the U.S. is on the rise. About 1 in 7 drivers are uninsured. Five percent of drivers in New York alone do not have insurance. Additionally, a large percentage of those with insurance carry only the mandatory minimum liability coverage of $25,000.

As a result, drivers who have car insurance should have sufficient uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as part of their insurance policies in order to recover compensation for any injuries sustained as a result of an accident. It is important for drivers to know what these insurance policies cover and how to collect on them if they get into accidents with uninsured drivers.
Definitions: Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist claims cover auto accidents where the at-fault drivers are without insurance; the at-fault vehicles are unregistered, stolen or driven without the owners’ permission; or the at-fault drivers left the scene of the accident (hit and runs) and cannot be identified.

Underinsured motorist claims cover motor vehicle accidents where the at-fault drivers do not have enough auto insurance to cover all of the damages they cause in accidents.
Insurance Policy Requirements

New York law only requires that drivers have liability insurance coverage in the following amounts:
$25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for the death of one person in one car accident
$50,000 for injuries to multiple people and $100,000 for deaths of multiple people in one car accident
$10,000 for property damage in one car accident

Drivers or passengers injured in an accident by someone who is uninsured or who carries only the minimum insurance required will be limited in their ability to recover for their pain and suffering unless they have access to additional coverage through their own uninsured or underinsured coverage.
Recovering From Insurance Companies After a New York Auto Accident

In order to recover on an uninsured motorist claim, the insurance company needs to determine that there was no insurance coverage for the at-fault driver or vehicle at the time of the accident.

When people make claims under their uninsured motorist policies for hit-and-run accidents, they need to provide the insurance company with “proof of physical contact” and evidence that their injuries or property damage arose from the contact.

Recovery under a New York underinsured motorist policy varies depending on the amount of coverage a driver has on his or her policy and the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has. The underinsured policy coverage only begins to pay for damages after the at-fault driver’s policy is exhausted.

Car accidents are traumatic enough without having to worry about paying the bills that result from them. Insurance companies routinely deny claims, which cause people who are already under stress even more frustration. If you have been in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your options.

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What You Can Do When Your Policy Is Cancelled

News that health insurers are ending the policies of what might be millions of Americans has rattled consumers and added to the debate over the health care law. If you or a family member has been notified that your individual policy is being canceled at year’s end, you may be stunned and upset.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in testimony that the law generally didn’t require insurers to discontinue plans that were in effect at the time of the law’s enactment in March 2010.  No one knows how many of the estimated 14 million people who buy their own insurance are getting such notices, but the numbers are substantial. Some insurers report discontinuing 20 percent of their individual business, while other insurers have notified up to 80 percent of policyholders that they’ll have to change plans.

Here’s a guide to help you understand the bigger picture, including why your premiums and benefits are likely to change next year and what you should consider as you shop for a new policy.

Why are these cancellations happening?    The health care law targeted the so-called individual market because it didn’t work well for many people who don’t get coverage through employers, particularly those who were older or had health problems. The latter often were rejected for coverage, were charged more or had their conditions excluded from coverage. Some policies provided only the barest of coverage when someone did fall ill.

Starting Jan. 1, insurers no longer can reject people who are sick or charge them more than the healthy under the Affordable Care Act. They also must beef up policies to meet minimum standards and must add benefits such as prescription drug coverage, maternity care and mental health services.

If you got a cancellation notice, most likely your plan didn’t meet all the new standards. Some policies that fail to meet the law’s standards may still be sold if the insurer decides to continue them and if they’re “grandfathered,” meaning that you purchased one before March 2010 and neither you nor the insurer has made any substantial change since then. Adjusting an annual deductible, which many people do each year to keep premiums down, is a change that could end grandfathered status.

How are insurers picking the policies to discontinue?   Some consumers fear they’re being targeted because they’re unhealthy or otherwise unprofitable for an insurance company. But insurers say they’re ending policies that don’t meet the law’s standards or weren’t grandfathered.

My insurer says that if I renew before the end of the year, I can keep my current plan. What does this mean?   In some states, insurers are offering selected policyholders a chance to “early renew,” meaning they may continue their existing plans through next year, even if they don’t meet all the law’s standards. If you choose this option, your premium might still go up, but the cause would be medical inflation, rather than the need to add benefits because of the health law. Not all states allow early renewals.

Why are premiums changing?   Under the old rules, insurers could decide whether to accept you, and how much to charge, based on answers to dozens of medical questions. Starting Jan. 1, insurers no longer can charge women more than men, or reject people who are sick or charge them more. They’re also adding new benefits.

As they drew up the rates for 2014, insurance firms had to make educated guesses about how many customers would stay, how many new ones they would attract, and what the health conditions of those new members might be. Actuaries say that it is possible that older buyers or those who had above-average health problems may find their premiums going down. Younger or healthier people, on the other hand, may find premiums going up, sometimes sharply.  Under the new rules, consumers “are not paying based on their own health status, but an average health status,” said Robert Cosway, an actuary with the consulting firm Milliman.

I’m healthy. Why do I have to pay for people who are sick?   Except for a fortunate few, everyone is likely to develop some kind of health problem or face an accident sometime in his or her life. Policy experts and regulators say insurance works best when it spreads the risk across a large group of people. Your house may not burn down this year, but you pay for insurance coverage just in case.

What should I do now that I’ve received a cancellation notice?  Experts say people should scrutinize the terms of their soon-to-be-discontinued policies and compare them with what new policies offer. The monthly premium is just one factor in cost. Also note the deductible. Is it per person? What’s the maximum deductible if two or more family members fall ill in the same year? Finally, note the annual out-of-pocket cap, which is the maximum you’d pay in deductibles and co-payments for medical care during the year. An independent broker can also show you plans from various carriers.

How Will ObamaCare Affect You?

As the Obama administration has rolled out the health care exchanges it’s worth a look back on the conflicting claims the White House has made on how the exchanges help, who they benefit and what they promise.
The following are some of President Obama’s better-known claims, and how they stack up to the facts.
STAYING PUT?
When stumping for the health care overhaul, Obama repeatedly told people that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” It’s even on the White House web site. So is this true? Not quite.
While the Affordable Care Act doesn’t force insured Americans to pick new plans or doctors, it also doesn’t ensure that your employer won’t decide to switch plans.
If that happens, the insured individual will have to go with what the employer decides. Similarly, if someone gets a new job, there is no guarantee that the new coverage will offer the same doctor as an in-network provider.
A shake-up of providers is likely, experts say. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says it’s hearing that many carriers will cancel policies and issue new ones because it would be administratively easier to do so than changing existing plans.
PAYING LESS?
Obama has claimed that the uninsured will pay less on the government exchanges than they would  on  the  individual market. So is it true?
Depends.
During an Aug. 9, 2013, press conference, the president said that the 15 percent of the country’s population that’s uninsured would be able to “sign up for affordable quality health insurance at a significantly cheaper rate than what they can get right now on the individual market.” He noted they’ll get additional tax credits if “even with lower premiums they still can’t afford it.”  But even his own team admits to some fuzzy math on that one.
Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has acknowledged that younger people will likely pay more and older people will pay less on the insurance exchanges. The cost of premiums will also be based on geography and other determining factors like smoking.
Economist Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was a paid adviser on the Obama administration’s health care plans, goes so far as saying that a small share of the uninsured would actually pay higher premiums on the exchanges.
ALL COVERED?
When Obama Care was initially presented to the public in 2009, it was said that the new law would provide health insurance for every man, woman and child in America. So is it true? The law will cover many more, but not everyone.
While ObamaCare is expected to extend coverage to 25 million Americans over the next 10 years, it will leave a projected 31 million people without insurance by 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Though the law requires individuals to buy health insurance, many are expected to buck that mandate and risk the possibility of a fine. Most of the 31 million will be people living below the poverty line in the 21 states that have decided against expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare.
SAVING JOBS?
Part of the president’s push with ObamaCare has been that it will create new jobs. But Obama scaled back his promise of job creation during a speech in Largo, Md., on Thursday. Instead, he said  his  health care overhaul wouldn’t hurt jobs. “There’s no widespread evidence that the Affordable Care Act is hurting jobs,” he said.  But  critics have  sharply  challenged  that claim.
A recent report in Investor’s Business Daily shows that as a direct result of ObamaCare, more than 300 companies have either eliminated jobs or reduced full-time jobs to part-time jobs.