Car insurance is sure to play a big part in any claim brought after a traffic accident. Indiana, like most states, requires vehicle owners to maintain financial responsibility for any accident they might cause. Most drivers do this by purchasing car insurance coverage in line with the minimums required under Indiana law. Read on for the details of Indiana's auto insurance rules and how coverage is likely to affect a car accident case.
Indiana follows a traditional "fault"-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a car accident: injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and other "damages". This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm (from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to policy limits).
In Indiana, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options.
In order to comply with Indiana's motor vehicle financial responsibility laws, drivers are usually required to carry liability car insurance coverage at the following minimums:
This basic coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Remember, once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after an Indiana car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, collision coverage (optional in Indiana) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
According to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, if you're involved in any of the following driving-related incidents, you can expect to receive a request for verification of financial responsibility at your mailing address:
In Indiana, all car insurance policies must include uninsured motorist coverage (UIM), in an amount equal to the minimums spelled out above (plus another $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury) unless these coverage options are waived in writing by the policy purchaser.
For a first violation of Indiana's motor vehicle financial responsibility laws, the punishment is usually suspension of driving privileges, and the driver may need to carry a special kind of insurance (SR22 insurance) going forward. Of course, penalties like these will likely pale in comparison to the financial hit you could take if you're in a car accident and you don't have car insurance.