Did you know there were changes made to your auto insurance at the beginning of 2016? If not, it’s good information to know just in case you ever get into an accident.

There are two main changes to Oregon’s auto insurance policies:

  1. The first is pure stacking of policies. This means that in case of an accident, you could now recover both the at-fault driver’s liability limit and the full coverage you paid for.
  2. Another change is to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is now extended to two years instead of one and can be used until time or money has run out. PIP medical bills have are now presumed reasonable unless denied 60 days or less after the insurer receives the notice of claim for bills.

Here are some other frequently asked questions that you may want to be aware of.

Should I consent to an independent medical exam?

Some MVA insurances require that you get an independent medical exam (IME). If you refuse an IME you could be cut off from your benefits. It also makes it more difficult for a lawyer to fight the report (should it be false) when the initial IME is refused. It’s recommended that you get the IME and later on, when you see a provider for treatment, if they see something that is incorrect it is easier to fight the report.

Who decides how much damage was done?

Agreement of damages is an agreement between you and the insurance company. You may want to consult an attorney after your accident. If an agreement can’t be made about what the damages are, it then goes through litigation.

What about bike or pedestrian accidents?

If you (as a biker or pedestrian) are in an accident with an automobile, your health insurance becomes the primary source of insurance, not the MVA. If you don’t have health insurance, PIP from the driver carries over to you.

What else should I know about PIP?

Oregon has “no fault” PIP coverage, meaning it is available to you whether or not the accident was your fault. Your insurance company will go after the other insurance company if the accident was not your fault. Your MVA insurance company won’t hold this against you.

When your PIP expires your options are to go through your health insurance, pay out of pocket or to work with an attorney and have a Letter of Protection sent to your medical professional. A Letter of Protection is an document that informs the health care provider that their bill will be paid from any settlements. If the case is lost the balance will be your responsibility.

Are these policies automatically in place?

Changes only apply to policies which are issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2016. You should contact your insurance agent and tell them you would like your insurance to change the effective date to such (January 2nd). That way you are covered under the new law if you get into an accident. Otherwise your coverage will change on the renewal date of your insurance policy.

It is recommended that you ask them for a letter that you are covered under the new law. Expect an increase in car insurance (hopefully not more than 4%).

The minimum PIP limit is $15,000. However, it is recommended that you increase your coverage to a minimum of $50.000 or more. It is also a good idea to have an umbrella that includes uninsured motorists. Consider talking to a lawyer right after an accident, before you talk to the adjustors. Many lawyers offer a free consultation.

And come see a PT. You don’t need a referral from a doctor to have physical therapy. Many people experience pain after an accident. Whether it’s a headache, neck or back pain, physical therapists can often help reduce the pain and regain the body function.

For more information on What to Do After A Traffic Accident, visit Sheldon Aaronson’s website.

Understanding New Oregon Auto Insurance Laws in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

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