The Ins & Outs of Car Insurance in Oregon

People in automobile accidents suffer a variety of losses, some with significant financial consequences. Damaged vehicles can be expensive to repair or replace and the cost of medical treatment for serious injuries can be astronomical. Bodily injury from an accident may prevent someone from working, thereby creating temporary or permanent loss of wages. Finally, injuries may cause either temporary disability/impairment, permanent disability/impairment, or both. Of course, people can also suffer serious non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship and permanent physical pain.

Fortunately, many of us purchase insurance to provide financial protection and security in the unfortunate event that we are harmed. This insurance comes in a wide variety of policy types and coverage amounts. Some insurance is mandatory in Oregon and some is not. The interplay between insurance policies can be quite complicated. In this article, we’ll examine the basics of mandatory automobile insurance in Oregon. In future articles we’ll examine required policy provisions in more detail, along with other types of coverage available. 

What Automobile Insurance Coverage Is Mandatory?

Oregon requires that every automobile owner purchase insurance with the following limits:

  • $25,000.00 in liability coverage for bodily injury or death of a single person;
  • $50,000.00 in liability coverage for bodily injury or death for multiple people in a single accident;
  • $15,000.00 in coverage for personal injury protection (often referred to as “PIP”);
  • $10,000.00 in coverage for property damage; and
  • $25,000.00 in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (often referred to as “UM” or “UIM”).

Keep in mind that these are only the minimum coverage limits required by Oregon law. Many automobile owners elect to carry much higher policy limits.

What Are the Differences Between Liability Insurance, Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

Liability Insurance

Every automobile liability insurance policy issued in Oregon provides liability coverage for the insured and each family member of the insured who resides in the insured’s household. Liability insurance protects a person who negligently causes injury to another. For example, if Mr. Smith runs a stop sign and damages Ms. Brown’s car, Mr. Smith’s liability insurance should pay the reasonable car repair costs incurred by Ms. Brown. If Ms. Brown is injured, Mr. Smith’s insurance should ultimately pay for the costs and harms resulting from the personal injury for which Mr. Smith is determined to be responsible.

Liability insurance plays an important role in society. First, and most importantly, it provides important benefits to those who are injured by the negligence of another, and helps to make them whole again. Additionally, insurance allows those who purchase it to protect their assets should they be held responsible for negligently causing harm to another person.

Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage provides an insured with coverage for bodily injury or death from an accident when the responsible party either does not have insurance coverage, or has insufficient insurance coverage to fully cover the injured party’s losses. This topic will be explored in more detail in a future article.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal injury protection coverage is a no-fault form of insurance that pays the medical bills for anyone injured in a collision. That means that it will pay the medical bills of any insured person covered under the policy, regardless of who is at fault in causing the accident. Oregon Revised Statutes Annotated § 742.520 provides that PIP benefits shall cover the insured; members of the insured’s family residing in the same household; children being reared by the insured in the insured’s household, even if not related to the insured by blood, marriage, or adoption; passengers in the motor vehicle; and pedestrians struck by the motor vehicle. This form of coverage will also be discussed in greater detail in a future article.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Our attorneys are experienced in understanding complicated insurance policies and the manner in which different policies work together. Unfortunately, we have seen many instances in which insurance companies have resisted paying out their benefits to car accident victims. We strongly believe that, just as the law expects individual wrongdoers to be held responsible for their actions, the law also requires the insurance companies providing coverage to these wrongdoers to meet their contractual obligations. Similarly, if the coverage of your own insurance policy is triggered, we believe the insurance company should provide the coverage you purchased. If you have questions regarding insurance coverage arising from an automobile accident or other event, or need help with your personal injury case, please call us for a free consultation.


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