Understanding Unique Insurance Terminology for Motor Vehicle Accidents

If you ever experience a motor vehicle accident, filing an insurance claim will likely be one of the first steps you take toward recovering your losses. Insurance companies throughout the United States use many different acronyms and abbreviations in their documentation. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of these terms before you get started with your claim.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you parse obtuse insurance company documentation and significantly streamline your overall claim experience. It’s natural to feel uncertain and frustrated with the amount of paperwork you must complete and the supplemental documentation necessary for most insurance claims, especially when you are still feeling the effects of your recent accident.

What Is the Abbreviation for Motor Vehicle Accident?

Insurance companies often use the abbreviation “MVA” to refer to a motor vehicle accident. If you scan your auto insurance policy carefully, you will likely notice this abbreviation used frequently. You will also see this and other abbreviations on other insurance documents related to your claim. Some of the other abbreviations you are likely to notice in these documents include:

  • BI: bodily injury liability insurance. This type of coverage applies to injuries to another person in an accident caused by the policyholder. State law typically requires bodily injury liability coverage for a single person and additional content for total accident bodily injury liability.
  • COLL: collision coverage for insured vehicle damages. This form of coverage takes effect after an accident regardless of who caused the accident.
  • COMP: comprehensive coverage. This form of optional auto insurance coverage applies to vehicle damage from sources other than collisions, such as accidents involving wildlife, vandalism, and even vehicle theft.
  • GAP: guaranteed auto protection. This coverage option protects policyholders driving vehicles they have financed. When a car isn’t completely paid off and is totaled in an accident, GAP provides the difference between the vehicle’s actual cash value and the balance remaining on the financing agreement for the vehicle.
  • PIP: personal injury protection or personal injury policy. Drivers can purchase this coverage option, also known as “no-fault” insurance, which provides coverage for medical expenses incurred by a policyholder or their passengers in an accident. States that follow no-fault laws for car accidents require PIP coverage.
  • UM: uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. While optional, it is generally a good idea for drivers to add this coverage option to their auto insurance policies. If a driver who does not have auto insurance or adequate auto insurance causes an accident with your vehicle, this coverage takes effect to provide compensation for medical expenses.
  • UMPD: uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Similar to uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, this coverage option will provide compensation for property damage after an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Hopefully, understanding these abbreviations will make it easier to navigate all the documentation you will encounter if you need to file an auto insurance claim after an accident. However, dealing with insurance companies is rarely an easy experience. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is one of your best options if you want to ensure maximum recovery for your losses.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

All insurance companies in the United States have a legal obligation to process claims in good faith. While they have the right (and the legal duty) to investigate every claim filed against their policies, they must do so in good faith. Unfortunately, some insurance company employees engage in bad faith tactics to minimize their employers’ profit losses. Whenever an insurance company pays out on a claim, the company loses money. It should be easy to see why insurance companies are rarely agreeable with claimants or forthcoming with information that would lead to them losing money.

When an insurance claim adjuster investigates a claim, they generally look for any and all justification they can find to reduce a claim payout or deny a claim outright. While some bad faith tactics are more subtle, others are more overt and rely on the claimant’s desperation to compel them into accepting lower settlements than the policy in question allows. Claim adjusters may misrepresent aspects of a policy, lie about available coverage, or engage in more direct bad faith tactics such as outright denying a claim without justification, unnecessarily delaying a claim, or entirely rescinding the policy in question, citing a technicality with the policyholder’s initial application.

If you encounter any of these issues, an experienced car accident attorney can help you secure the insurance claim payout you deserve under the terms of the policy in question. They can also help you hold an insurance company accountable for any bad faith tactics their employees commit. However, simply hiring an attorney to assist you with your initial claim can be enough to discourage any mishandling of your claim or bad faith on the insurance company’s part.

What Happens When Insurance Isn’t Enough for My Damages?

Some car accidents result in devastating injuries and substantial economic losses. In a fault-based state like California, an injured driver would have the legal right to pursue a personal injury claim against an at-fault driver if their damages eclipse the total amount of available insurance coverage in the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy.

An attorney is your best resource if you find yourself in this situation. A car accident can lead to severe injuries and long recovery times, leading to expensive medical bills and lost income. These financial strains can quickly compound into more significant economic issues such as the inability to pay your household bills. Your attorney can help you navigate complex insurance paperwork and maximize your claim payout as well as help you explore further legal options for recovery, such as a personal injury lawsuit against the driver responsible for your accident.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a car accident and you are having difficulty navigating your insurance claim, McLachlan Law, APC, can help. Our team has extensive experience handling difficult insurance claims for auto accidents, and we know how California insurers handle these claims. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and we will help you maximize your recovery to the fullest extent possible.