“Full Coverage” Auto Insurance Is Like a Bad Meal

Automobile Accidents | Full Coverage | Insurance | Insurance Coverage | Personal Injury Protection | PIP

By Steven J. Anglés

May 29, 2020

Person driving a vehicle

It happened again yesterday, which is why I am writing this blog post today. The sad truth is that it actually happens very often in my line of work. Someone is driving their car, gets into a crash caused by someone else, and now there are bills to pay. The injured person thinks they have insurance coverage to pay for their medical treatment, or their repair car, only to find out that they don’t. They thought they had “full coverage”, but they didn’t. At least not for the particular situation they now find themselves in.

“Full coverage” usually really isn’t. It’s an old insurance term that still gets used today when it should have died out years ago. It’s a catchy way of selling insurance to drivers who are looking for comfort if the worst should happen to them or their loved ones. The way I see it, it’s like having a really disappointing experience at a restaurant.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you and someone very important to you are going out (before COVID-19) to a fancy dinner to celebrate an important occasion. The menu is long, confusing, and full of choices you know almost nothing about. You ask your server for a recommendation. They suggest the low-priced “Chef’s Menu” where the chef decides what you get. The server promises you that you will get to try lots of things you will enjoy. The bread arrives and it’s a single piece for you and your guest to split. The “appetizer” arrives and its 2 tiny stuffed mushrooms. The salad is one piece of lettuce with one crouton. Your main course consists of a single bite-sized piece of chicken along with fancy rice served in a shot glass. Dessert is a tasty cookie the size of a quarter.

The good news? Technically, you did get lots of different things, both sweet and savory. Heck, you even got a balanced meal that covered most of the food groups. Technically, you had dinner. The price was very reasonable. But were you really “fully fed”? Did you get what you needed?

It might be a clunky analogy, but it’s what I think of when a client or potential client tell me not to worry because they had “full coverage” on their vehicle. Inevitably, what they find out is that although technically they bought many different types of auto insurance to protect them in different situations, they only have a little bit of every type of insurance. In other cases, they have more than just a little bit of insurance, but they are missing important types of insurance in exchange for paying a little bit less in premiums. There are numerous examples, but the most common “full coverage” problem involves having too little insurance coverage to pay for way too much in medical bills, time missed from work, or auto repairs.

My advice is simple: when you buy auto insurance, ask questions. Don’t ever get sold on “full coverage” because different drivers have different risks and needs, and one size does not fit all. Your insurance coverage might meet the minimum requirements for the state of Washington, but nothing more. Or, the great rate you’re paying might mean you’re missing a very important (and often cheap) type of coverage, like PIP ( Personal Injury Protection). Whatever insurance you buy, make sure it covers what you’re most concerned about protecting, because there just aren’t any inexpensive car repairs anymore, a quick visit to an emergency room may set you back thousands of dollars, and there are plenty of drivers without insurance causing crashes.