Downtown Portland, Oregon
Downtown Portland, Oregon

Oregon Auto Insurance FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions that I receive from drivers.

Oregon’s auto insurance law ORS 806.010 requires every driver to insure their vehicle. The minimum auto liability insurance that a driver must have is bodily injury and property damage liability of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others; and $10,000 per crash for damage to the property of others.

Oregon auto insurance PIP, also known as Personal Injury Protection, (for reasonable and necessary medical, dental and other expenses one year after a crash) is required at a minimum of $15,000 per person and uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash for bodily injury.

 If you think that you need more liability protection than the law requires then you’re absolutely right. Most accidents have the potential to be more than what the state minimum limits require. If you are considered responsible for bills that exceed the amount of your insurance coverage then the difference will come out of your own pocket. 
Your vehicle must be registered in your name in order for you to obtain insurance. If the vehicle is registered under a different name, no insurance can be issued to you until your name is on the registration.
In Oregon, insurance follows the vehicle. Whenever you knowingly loan your car to a friend or family member they would be covered under your automobile insurance policy. Even if you do not give explicit permission each time a person borrows your car, they are still covered under your automobile insurance policy as long as they had a reasonable belief that you would have given them permission to drive the car.
When purchasing liability limits some insurance companies will provide you with two types of coverage options. Combined Single Limit and Split Limit policies. The difference between the two is that a Combined Single Limit gives you one single amount of coverage to use as needed; and Split Limit coverage splits the coverage amount.

Split Limit coverage designates and apportions how much protection you have for bodily injury and/or property damage. Essentially it breaks down the maximum coverage per person and per accident for bodily injury with a separate component for property damage. A Split Limit is quoted in three numbers: bodily injury at $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident/& $100,000 for property damage.

At it’s simplicity Combined Single Limit will afford the flexibility to use the entire coverage amount for everything, including property damage and bodily injury. You would not be locked into a set breakdown of coverage amounts which provides flexibility based on the situation of an accident to distribute money in an appropriate fashion.

The most that any insurance company will pay for the value of your vehicle is what it is worth in today’s market. Adjusters consider three criteria when determining if a damaged vehicle gets repaired or whether it would be determined a total loss.

 Availability of finding the auto parts.

 The cost and value of those parts.

 Cost of repairs to the vehicle.

One of the most challenging job for adjusters for damaged cars is finding the parts. If a part cannot be found it is possible that they will total it out, if the frame is bent or mechanical parts (radiator, engine) are destroyed the vehicle might also be considered a total loss. If it is going to cost the company extensive labor hours to process the loss in addition to the loss itself it is possible that the vehicle would be totaled.

If an insurance company did total out your vehicle you would be reimbursed the stated cash value of the vehicle given when the policy is started, you would have the opportunity to buy the car from the company at the salvage value. Salvage value would be what the company could get for the parts.

When you purchase a new vehicle you have automatic acquisition coverage if you ask your insurance company to insure your vehicle during the current policy period and within a set amount of days after becoming an owner. Some companies require within 10 days others require 30 days. If your vehicle is replacing an auto that was on your existing auto policy the new vehicle is going to have the same coverage as the vehicle it replaced. If the vehicle is in addition to any vehicle on the policy declarations page then it will have the broadest coverage that is on the declaration page.

As an insurance broker I help individuals throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest manage risk.