If you are a resident of Missouri, and have only liability auto insurance, there is something your insurance agent is not telling you.
Now, of course you understand that is you have only liability coverage, damages in an accident are paid to the other party involved only if you are at fault. Your damages, in that situation, are your own responsibility. Liability insurance is only available to a customer is there is no lien on their vehicle. Many consumers choose this coverage because it is the minimum required by law, and many justify having only liability because of the cost difference in comparison to full coverage, especially if their car is older or not assessed at a high value.
However, as a Missouri resident who fell into this category and who has recently been in a car accident, I would like to shed some light on this situation and provide some information that is not well known.
In Missouri, there is a law pertaining to auto accidents that is called, “Pure Comparison.” Missouri is not the only state that has this law. What it means is that the insurance company has the right to assess some fault to the party who was not in fault of the accident. We’ll use my own accident as an example. I was driving westbound on a major highway. This is a divided highway – two lanes westbound, two east. A median seperates the lanes, and a yield sign is in the median. I was driving within the speed limit. It was dark, and my lights were on. A van went through a median (and the yield sign in the median) to go northbound on a cross street. I did what anyone would do; I braked and swerved to attempt to avoid hitting the van.
The party at fault got a ticket for failure to yield; I did not receive a ticket.
However, the other party’s insurance company is attempting to assign to me some percentage of fault – which apparently, in Missouri, is legal and common place. Since I only had liability insurance at the time, my insurance company has no real interest in arguing my case to the opposing company. I’m pretty much on my own.
So, the lesson to be learned is this; if you are a Missouri resident, with only liability insurance, and you have an accident in which you are not at fault, you will be punished for not carrying full coverage insurance. Have full coverage, or have a large savings account to compensate for your losses. If you are not a Missouri resident, spend some time researching insurance laws in your own state. You never know when you’ll have to know these things.