Underinsured Benefits

Car Insurance


When you purchase an automobile insurance policy, you are protecting yourself in the event that you cause a car crash, and need to pay compensation to the person you injured. 

But when you buy insurance, you are also purchasing “underinsured” coverage, which protects you in case you are injured by someone who doesn’t have insurance (although it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle without insurance), or more commonly seen, does not have enough insurance to pay out adequate compensation to you.  This portion of your policy is known as the “OPCF 44 Family Protection Coverage”.

Most standard automobile policies insure their clients for $1,000,000. That may seem like a large sum of money, but if you are unfortunate enough to be seriously injured in a car crash, and need a lifetime of medical treatment and rehabilitation and cannot work again, the $1,000,000 from the at fault driver’s insurance company may not last very long.

Although most standard automobile policies insure their clients for $1,000,000, it is possible (but not recommended!) to purchase automobile insurance for less than that.   If you have been injured by someone with inadequate insurance, your OPCF44R policy will make up the difference up to the amount of insurance coverage you have purchased.   So, here is an example:

You have an OPCR44R policy for $1,000,000.  You are involved in a car crash that is someone else’s fault, and your damages are $1,000,000, but the driver who caused the crash only has $200,000 of coverage. You can sue the at fault driver for the $200,000 under his policy, and then maintain a claim against your own insurance company for under insured coverage (through the OCF44R portion of the policy) for the remaining $800,000.

But let’s take it a step further.   What if your injuries from the car crash are even greater, and total $2,000,000, but the driver who injured you only has $1,000,000 in insurance?   If you have purchased $2,000,000 in liability coverage, your OPCF44R policy can be utilized to provide you with an additional insurance $1,000,000 compensation beyond the $1,000,000 provided by the insurance company of the driver who was at fault.

Talk to your insurance company or your broker about purchasing additional OPCF44R coverage – you will probably find that the additional premium cost for the extra insurance coverage is not significant.

And while you are speaking to your insurance company about purchasing additional OPCF 44R coverage, you should also ask about purchasing additional “optional benefits” under the accident benefits portion of your policy.

Before 2010, your automobile policy included a relatively generous “accident benefits” policy, that included funding for income losses, housekeeping expenses, and medical and rehabilitation treatments. However, in 2010, many of those benefits were removed from the mandatory portion of your accident benefits policy, and only became available to people who had paid an additional premium to purchase these “optional benefits”. 

The topic of “optional benefits” deserves its own blog post, but PLEASE look into purchasing optional benefits – particularly for medical and rehabilitation expenses, and for attendant care.

When you have been injured in a car crash, generally your accident benefits policy pays first, and you will then need to sue the at fault driver for the losses and damage that you have suffered that are not covered by your accident benefits policy. 

Now, because the payments for accident benefits have generally been reduced, there is less money for care being contributed through accident benefit policies, which means that injured people have to rely on lawsuits to a greater extent to provide a significant portion of their compensation.

So, the bottom line here is as a result of decreased accident benefit payments, and the risk that the driver who injures you might have inadequate insurance, we strongly advise you to purchase a minimum of $2,000,000 liability coverage.

If you carry $2,000,000 liability coverage, you will be protecting yourself for up to $2,000,000 to pay out any damage that you cause to another person, and, as well, you will be purchasing up to $2,000,000 of potential compensation for yourself in the event that you are injured by someone who didn’t purchase enough insurance.



About the Author

CLAIRE WILKINSON - Burlington Lawyer


Claire Wilkinson specializes in personal injury and insurance litigation. A large percentage of Claire's practice is dedicated to assisting survivors of sexual abuse. Claire also represents persons seriously injured by motor vehicle collisions, product liability, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and other areas of personal injury litigation.