I am not sure how “full coverage” made its way into common discussions about automobile insurance. I have been told by friends who sell car insurance that they avoid using the term at all costs so that there is no misunderstanding. In the law, the term has no significance at all. Regardless, I hear clients often describe their automobile insurance policies as providing “full coverage.” It rarely happens that the insurance coverage these clients actually possess is the full extent of coverage offered by their insurance company.
There are four main components of automobile insurance coverage: liability coverage, comprehensive property damage coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage. Of the four, Mississippi law only requires drivers to purchase liability coverage, which only pays other people you may injure as a result of your own careless driving. All other coverages are optional, and cost you additional premiums. Liability coverage will not pay your own medical bills. It will not pay you for injuries caused by an uninsured driver. It will not replace or repair your vehicle when you cause an accident.
Before you hit the road assuming you have “full coverage,” take ten minutes to speak with your auto insurance agent to talk about what is (and what is not) covered under the policy you currently owned. You may just be surprised that what you own does not meet your definition of “full coverage.” Unfortunately, most people don’t make this discovery until after an accident, when it is too late. I always recommend clients make that phone call to their insurance agent when they receive their renewal notice in the mail, so that they can make sure that the coverage they actually have meets their expectations.