In no-fault states for auto insurance, motorists turn to their own insurers for reimbursement after an accident — regardless of who was at fault. Laws vary; some no-fault states limit the amount that an insurer will pay, while others don’t set a limit.
The Insurance Information Institute lists Arkansas as an “add-on” state when it comes to no-fault car insurance. Drivers are required to carry basic at-fault liability coverage but can add so-called first-party, no-fault coverage.
How do the laws in Arkansas translate for you as a motorist, and what type of coverage should you carry?
The fault-based insurance laws in Arkansas require that every driver carries auto insurance. “Fault” refers to the fact that in an accident, the responsible driver — the one who is “at fault” — bears the financial burden for any resulting property damage and injuries. The majority of financial responsibility in the event of an accident is passed on to the responsible driver’s insurer.
If you’re in an accident that is not your fault, you have several choices. You can submit a claim to your insurance company, which then attempts to gain reimbursement from the insurer of the responsible driver. You also can directly file a claim against the insurance company of the responsible driver, or you can file a lawsuit against the other driver, the driver’s insurer and any other potentially liable parties.
If you are a passenger in someone else’s car at the time of a crash, you still can submit a claim to your own insurance company for benefits.
All vehicle owners in Arkansas are required to carry liability coverage. If you’re in an accident and law enforcement authorities determine that you were at fault, your liability policy pays for claims from other involved motorists.
Under state law, you’re required to carry bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage. You also can pay your insurer for limits higher than these required minimums.
To register your vehicle in Arkansas and drive legally, all drivers must meet the minimum liability requirements. Out-of-state drivers also are required to carry at least the minimum liability coverage to drive legally in Arkansas, but policies can be purchased in drivers’ states of residence.
Getting ‘No-Fault’ Coverage in Arkansas
Beyond your required minimum liability insurance, you can choose to pay your insurer extra for no-fault coverage. Under a no-fault policy, you or your loved ones will receive coverage after an accident for expenses like disability income, medical bills and accidental death benefits. Arkansas requires that your insurance company offer you at least $5,000 of no-fault insurance for medical bills you incur because of a wreck.
Regardless of who causes an wreck, if you have a no-fault policy, you will receive the benefits your policy covers. If you are riding in or driving someone else’s vehicle and you’re in an accident, your benefits will remain in effect. The benefits also may cover a family member who is driving your vehicle or who is your passenger, if their own policy does not provide the benefits.
To get no-fault coverage in Arkansas, you can choose a package known as “personal injury protection”or PIP insurance, or you can purchase benefits individually from your insurer. After an accident, you’ll typically need to file a claim with your insurer within two years to receive benefits.
Other Types of Coverage
When you apply for your required liability coverage, your insurer also will offer you the chance to purchase additional coverage types, including:
- Uninsured motorist covering bodily injuries and property damage.
- Underinsured motorist covering bodily injuries.
- Comprehensive coverage.
- Collision coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical expenses and damage to your vehicle if another driver causes an accident but lacks the required liability insurance policy. Underinsured motorist coverage provides you with additional benefits if another driver causes an accident and does not have sufficient coverage to pay for your medical expenses.
If you purchase comprehensive coverage, you’ll be protected against any damage to your vehicle by storms or other acts of nature. Collision coverage provides you with protection if your vehicle sustains damage in an accident. As with no fault medical payments coverage, Arkansas law requires your insurance company to offer you underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Additionally, if you choose to reject such coverages, they must obtain the rejection in writing. We strongly advise all our clients to obtain underinsured and uninsured coverage to protect themselves and their families in the event of a car wreck.
For assistance after an accident, work with an experienced attorney to understand your insurance coverage and receive the compensation you deserve. Contact the Law Offices of Alan Levar for assistance.