Oregon lawmakers recently passed Senate Bill 411 which provides Oregon motorists additional medical benefits and additional underinsured medical benefits. But, there is a catch. These additional coverages only apply to auto insurance policies issued or renewed in 2016 or later. If your policy was issued before then, contact your insurer or agent to request auto policy renewal.
1. ADDITIONAL YEAR OF AUTO “PIP” MEDICAL BENEFITS
Unlike neighboring states Washington and California, Oregon requires all auto insurance policies to contain a medical payment and wage loss benefit known as Personal Injury Protection, commonly referred to as “PIP”. Oregon law requires auto insurance policies to contain a PIP benefit of at least $15,000, for reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to an auto accident, regardless of fault. For policies issued before 2016 this benefit lasts for 1 year. For policies issued or renewed in 2016 later, this benefit last 2 years. Take away: RENEW ANY AUTO POLICY ISSUED BEFORE JANUARY 1, 2016 TO GET AN ADDITIONAL YEAR OF PIP MEDICAL BENEFITS!
Generally speaking, here’s how the PIP medical benefit works: If you are in an auto accident, your own insurer (or the insurer for the driver if you were a passenger) will front medicals charges to the extent of the PIP coverage you purchased (at least $15k). Your auto insurer will have a reimbursement claim against the driver at fault, which it usually resolves directly with the at fault insurer for the at claim conclusion. In this way, persons injured in an accident get some some medical costs paid without having to first win an argument about who was at fault.
In addition to this no fault medical benefit, Oregon PIP coverage also includes:
• A wage loss benefit of 70% of wages lost up to $3k per month for insured persons taken off work by a doctor for at least 14 consecutive days;
• A child care benefit of up to $25 per Day up to a max of $750 if the insured is a parent of a minor child who is hospitalized for more than 24 hours;
• Funeral expenses up to $5k;
• Loss of services of $30/day for up to 52 weeks for unemployed persons with at least 14 days of consecutive disability if those services are performed by a non-family member living outside the household.
2. OREGON UNDERINSURED (UIM) COVERAGE NOW STACKS
Oregon law also requires auto insurance issued in the state to provide coverage for the possibility that that fault driver does not have auto insurance (“Uninsured motorist coverage” or “UM”) and for the possibility that the at fault does have auto insurance, but not enough (“Underinsured motorist coverage” or “UIM”). Before senate bill 411 was passed on March 12, 2015 (applicable to policies issued or renewed after January 1, 2016), extent of UIM coverage was limited the not at fault driver’s UIM coverage limit MINUS the at fault drivers’ limit. So, for example where the fault driver held $100k in liability insurance and the not at fault driver carried $100k in UIM coverage, the not at fault driver would not ZERO in UIM coverage– as $100k of the at fault driver cancelled out the $100k UIM coverage held by the not at fault driver.
Consumer advocates including the Oregon Trial Lawyers (OTLA) thought it unfair that Oregon auto insurers were allowed to pay less than UIM limits by getting credit for the extent of insurance held by the bad driver. The Oregon legislature agreed. As a result, UIM auto coverage in policies issued or renewed after January 1, 2016 now STACK on top of the at fault driver’s coverage.
Returning to the example, under the new law, the not at fault driver would have access to $200k in insurance (at fault divers’ $100k PLUS his own UIM coverage of $100k). Take away: RENEW ANY AUTO POLICY ISSUED BEFORE JANUARY 1, 2016 TO GET AN ADDITIONAL “STACKING” UNDERINSURED MOTORIST BENEFITS! Now, you have two very good reasons to renew any Oregon auto insurance policy issued before January 1, 2016.