Nothing reminds me of the value and unpredictability of life as much as meeting with someone who has lost a family member in a collision. I recently met with a man who lost his wife and one of his children, when his wife was on her way to the grocery store. Within a week, I met another who lost her husband, who was also the father of their teenage son, in a motorcycle accident on the way to work. Within days of that, I met with a young man whose father was killed while simply crossing the parking lot of a store to buy groceries. None of their loved-ones anticipated that they would not see them alive again when they spoke to them the morning of the collision.
The victims of these incidents have departed, but the family and friends are left to deal with the loss. And, while no amount of money can really do what we would most like–to restore the lost life–our laws demand that we acknowledge that the driver who drove dangerously be held responsible to the family members to a level that properly acknowledges their loss. But, even the most “conservative” among us would allow more for these losses than the upper limit of even most higher-end Arizona auto insurance policies.
Think about any of these clients I mention above. Now consider that the minimum policy limit in Arizona is $15,000.00. And, a “healthy” policy is usually $100,000.00 (commercial and umbrella policies are higher, but rare). It surprises me how often people misunderstand how policy limits work–but the key word is “limits.” These numbers reflect the maximum the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for any injured person’s claim, including a wrongful death claim. It also means that, for example, if there are four family members who have a right to make a wrongful death claim, they would be SHARING the $15,000, on that lower policy, or the $100,000 on the higher policy–neither of which seems right for the loss of a life. In a society like ours, that values individual life, it feels too low.
Right now you are thinking you don’t need to worry about this, right? You are never going to experience losing a loved one in a collision. Or, your loved ones will never be left behind because you were killed in one. You can’t miss the irony in these thoughts. There are over 100 traffic fatalities EVERY DAY in the United States, and not one of them or their loved ones thought they would ever be “the one.”
So, what can you do to better protect yourself and your family, at least from the likelihood of serious undercompensation for the loss? The answer lies in talking to your agent about Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage (I’ve written other articles, and have YouTube videos on these coverages you can find at davismiles.com, my published articles on LinkedIn, or my YouTube channel), and even the prospect of adding such coverage to your umbrella policy. After seeing the tragedy play out in these recent meetings, I wanted to pass the advice on . . . again.