Updated August 29, 2018

After seeing countless commercials featuring friendly reptiles, celebrity spokespeople, enticing cartoons, and other zany characters, you may be under the false impression that shopping for car insurance is all about price. This is very far from true.

First, there are several different insurance options, as explained in our article, NJ Insurance and Your Rights. You have no control over what type of insurance other drivers purchase. You are the one in the best position to ensure that there is adequate insurance to cover any unfortunate loss.

Make Sure to Get Full PIP Coverage

If you own a vehicle and are in an accident, it is your insurance company that pays for the medical bills under the Personal Injury Protection portion of the policy. This is explained in more detail in our article, Who Pays for My Medical Treatment after an Accident? “Standard” or “Full PIP” coverage means that you are covered for up to $250,000 of treatment. Some people may be tempted to save money by choosing one of the lower PIP limits of $15,000, $50,000, $75,000 or $150,000. It is very important that you read the paperwork, as many people are not even aware that they have a limited PIP policy until after they are injured in an accident. We at Raff & Raff believe that it is a huge mistake to purchase anything less that Standard PIP.

Purchase as Much Liability Coverage as You Can Afford

In the event that you are involved in an accident and you are sued, your insurer will hire an attorney to defend you and pay claims up to the amount of your liability coverage. In other words, if you purchase a “15/30 policy”, you are only covered for up to $15,000 per person, per accident, with a maximum of $30,000. Many people may be satisfied purchasing only a 15/30 policy (the New Jersey state minimum for Standard policies) because they are not fearful that someone may sue them and go after their personal assets (like a home, car, boat, etc.).

But there is something very important to consider: If you are unfortunately inured badly in an accident, and the other driver is at fault but has no insurance or a policy that isn’t large enough to fully compensate you for your injury, you can make a claim for pain and suffering with your own insurance company. This would fall under the UM/UIM portion of the policy. And you cannot buy more UM/UIM coverage than liability coverage. Since there are so many drivers in New Jersey who are uninsured, or who have only $15,000 in liability coverage, it is very important to buy as much liability coverage as you can afford, and then purchase the maximum UM/UIM coverage.

In sum, you may be tempted to save money and buy a policy with limited PIP and the minimum liability coverage. Or you may be attracted to a cheap insurance policy and not even realize that you are buying very minimal insurance. Please make sure to read all of the paperwork before buying insurance, know what you are buying, and understand that you may regret saving a few dollars today if you one day are unfortunate enough to suffer serious injuries in a car crash, and you have insufficient insurance to cover your medical bills and your pain and suffering.