Understanding Auto Insurance in Wyoming
While complying with Wyoming's mandatory auto insurance law has always been important, playing by the rules has now taken on a whole new degree of urgency. Thanks to a new law enforcement verification system, highway patrol officers now have the ability to get instant confirmation as to whether a driver carries the minimum required coverage on his or her vehicle.
No Escaping the Laws
Officially in operation since June 1, 2009, the real-time system is linked to databases maintained by the state's 134 licensed auto insurers. When a State Highway Patrol trooper calls in a license plate number, an automatic search of those databases is triggered, returning within moments information on whether the motorist is insured and what types of coverage he or she maintains. So, while driving without the minimum requirement is just as illegal as it was before, it's now a whole lot easier to get caught. And that's no small deal, considering that driving uninsured can net a motorist a $750 fine and six months in jail.
The Legal Minimum
In accordance with the law, all motorists are required to maintain liability protection with minimum coverage levels of $25,000 per accident for bodily injury or death; $50,000 per accident for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and $20,000 per accident for property damage. Like so many states before it, Wyoming enacted the mandatory insurance law to protect its residents from financial ruin when they're involved in an accident that's caused by somebody else. By maintaining liability protection, the at-fault driver has the means to pay for the other motorist's repairs and medical bills. And because the state law specifically allows for any resident to sue another over injury, damage or loss, liability coverage also protects the policyholder by providing money that would otherwise have to be sought after in court.
The Risk Factor
That's not to say you're guaranteed to not end up at the other end of a lawsuit. If the minimum required benefits of $25,000, $50,000 and $20,000 don't quite cover all of the other driver's medical bills and repair costs, you could still find yourself pillaging your life savings or selling off your property to bankroll the other motorist's costs. In other words, even if you're a legally responsible driver who maintains state-required auto protection, one simple slipup behind the wheel could result in losing everything you've worked so hard to build. Is that really a risk you're willing to take?
Clearly, most of the drivers in this country aren't. The national averages for coverage are as follows: $100,000 for bodily injury or death; $300,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and $50,000 for property damage. Those figures are far cries from the $25,000, $50,000 and $20,000 required by Wyoming law.
There's no reason why you can't get the same protection for you and your family; because the state has set minimum requirements doesn't mean you're bound by them. You have every right to go above the law and increase your liability coverage, as well as add additional protection to your policy. Here are some of the other options that are available:
Uninsured Motorist: In spite of all the safeguards Wyoming has in place to prevent residents from driving uninsured, an estimated 13 percent of people on the road are driving without protection. Plus, since anyone is free to visit or pass through Wyoming, there's always a certain number of people on the road who aren't required to comply with state laws. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you by covering your expenses if you're ever in an accident in which an uninsured motorist is at fault. In some states, this type of coverage is required.
Comprehensive: Extending your coverage beyond just accident-caused damage, comprehensive protection helps replace your car if it's stolen and pays to repair damage caused by fire, wind, hail, flooding, explosion, vandalism and animals. Most owners of new or high-end vehicles consider comprehensive protection essential.
Collision: Offered by many insurers as part of a package with comprehensive protection, collision coverage pays for vehicle damage resulting from a collision--regardless of who is responsible.
Medical: Medical insurance not only pays for your injuries, but also for the injuries of anyone else in the car. Depending on your policy, some plans go as far as to offer coverage if you're injured in someone else's car, and even if you're hit by someone else's car.
Riders: Riders, or add-ons, to Wyoming policies include towing; roadside assistance; a free or discounted rental car; and labor benefits to make up for lost income resulting from an accident.
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