Practice AreaInsurance Coverage and Insurance Disputes

  • Liability: This type of insurance protects you from claims made against you. If an accident is your fault and you have caused damage or injury to others, your liability insurance is available to compensate the injured parties. Automobile liability insurance generally includes coverage for both bodily injury and property damage. There are usually separate limits stated for these two categories of coverage. These coverages are mandatory under Hawaii law. That means, if you are required to purchase auto insurance, you must buy liability coverage for both bodily injury and property damage.

  • PIP Benefits:Since January 1, 1998, under Hawaii law, Personal Injury Protection (sometimes known as “No Fault” or “PIP”) has become a basic no fault type of medical insurance. The minimum coverage required by Hawaii law is $10,000.00. (This does not apply to motorcycles, however.) Regardless of who is at fault for an accident, the PIP insurer is responsible to pay the reasonable and necessary medical bills of an owner or occupant of an automobile who is in need of treatment (with certain exceptions). If you exhaust your PIP limit of coverage, then any excess medical bills can be submitted to your health insurance. PIP is mandatory coverage in Hawaii.

  • Collision: This coverage pays you for any damage done to your vehicle. It typically is purchased with a deductible. This means that you must pay up to the amount of your deductible and then your insurance will cover the excess to repair your car. If the accident was not your fault, your insurance company should demand your deductible back from the responsible party and then return the deductible to you. Many carriers have failed to return deductibles in the past. Collision insurance carriers may also be responsible for the reduction in the resale value (even after repairs) of a car which has been involved in an accident. This coverage is optional under Hawaii law.

  • Comprehensive: This coverage provides protection if your vehicle is stolen or damaged in a variety of ways other than in an accident with another vehicle. It may have a deductible. This coverage is optional under Hawaii law.

  • Uninsured Motorist (UM): This coverage protects you and your resident family members in case you or one of them are injured by a uninsured driver. In Hawaii there are a large number of uninsured drivers on the road. You should purchase this coverage in the largest limits available. This coverage is cheap and when purchased with UIM coverage in the same limits it provides you with an umbrella protection for injuries due to someone else’s negligence while operating a motor vehicle. This is not a good place to skimp. UM coverage can generally be purchased in amounts up to the limits of your liability coverage. You should purchase at least $100,000.00/$300,000.00 limits. If you are injured by an uninsured driver, this may be the only recovery available to you (beyond your PIP medical benefits). The difference in price for larger UM limits is usually not very much. The additional protection is well worth the price. Do not waive this coverage.

  • Underinsured Motorist (UIM): This coverage protects you and your resident family members in case you or one of them are injured by a underinsured driver. This is a driver whose liability insurance is inadequate to satisfy your total claim arising out of an accident. In Hawaii there are many accidents in which the party at fault is underinsured. You also should purchase UIM coverage in the largest limits available. UIM coverage is cheap just like UM coverage and when purchased with UM coverage in the same limits they will together provide you with umbrella protection for injuries which you may suffer due to someone else’s negligence while operating a motor vehicle. UIM coverage can generally be purchased in amounts up to the limits of your liability coverage. You should once again purchase at least $100,000.00/$300,000.00 limits. If you are injured by an underinsured driver, this may provide critical protection to assist you in putting the pieces of your life back together. The difference in price for larger UIM limits is usually quite small. The additional protection is well worth the price. Do not waive this coverage.

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