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Eventually, it is likely to happen to each of us: we’re involved in an automobile accident. Now what?

Your health comes first. Check around you to see if you or anybody else suffered injuries. If someone suffered injury, render aid where appropriate (by contacting the police or 911 immediately). Do so as quickly as possible. Emergency medical personnel who arrive at the accident scene quickly are best equipped to save lives and treat injuries.

Insure.com recently published an article detailing what to do in the event of an automobile accident. One of the most intriguing things about the article concerns the comment about how few people read or understand their automobile insurance coverages. Auto insurance provides protection for medical expenses, property damage, rental car expenses and personal injury claims. Also, first party and third party coverages provide coverage in case of loss.

What is the difference between first and third party coverage? First party coverage generally relates to claims by you against your own insurance carrier for your losses. First party coverage can provide payments to you, your immediate family members, and in some instances to the occupants of your vehicle for such things as medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of earnings, property damage (repairs or replacement value of your vehicle) and vehicle towing/storage expenses. Examples of first party coverages are uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive, and medical payments coverage. Third party coverage relates to a policy for which you are considered an “insured” but somebody else makes a claim for losses as a result of your conduct. Third party coverage, also referred to as liability coverage, provides payments to other people (for example, injured parties in the other vehicle involved in the accident) for your fault in causing the accident or the fault of someone driving your car with your permission.

Each of these coverages and respective coverage amounts are listed in your policy’s declarations or “dec” page provided by your automobile insurance carrier. You can and should make periodic changes to your coverages by occasionally reviewing your dec page with your insurance agent. Life’s changes (new children, additional vehicles in the household, etc.) require occasional updates or amendments to your insurance policies.

Do yourself and your family a favor today. Read your automobile insurance policy and declarations page so that you understand the protection you have. If necessary, make adjustments to your coverage before the unfortunate accident occurs. If you are not sure about your coverages, contact your insurance agent today.

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