Automobile Insurance policies vary from company to company, but there are some general items you should consider when deciding upon coverage.  The “declaration” page of the policy is like a summary sheet of your insurance.  Each section has a specific purpose and if you read the policy it tells you exactly what is covered and what is not for each section.   A good way to think about each section or coverage is as bucket of insurance and your policy is made up of several buckets of insurance.   The first is bodily injury and property damage that you cause to others.  Most policies provide coverage in blocks of $25,000.00 or more.  In Montana, you must carry by law $25,000.00 or more in coverage to pay for the damage you cause to someone else.  However, $25,000.00 is not enough coverage considering the cost of vehicles and medical expenses and many people only carry $25,000.00 in coverage or none at all.  Therefore, you must buy insurance on your policy in case someone with little or no insurance causes the accident.  The two separate coverages are Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM).   UM covers you if the other person has no insurance and UIM covers you when the other person runs out of insurance money to pay for your expenses due to the accident.   UM and UIM are equally important and you need to ask yourself how much money do you need available for you if the other person has no insurance or is under insured.  I suggest a minimum of $100,000 UM and UIM coverage and it is surprisingly affordable from most companies.  An automobile accident is bad enough.  But, lack of UM and UIM coverage on your policy can cause you financial trouble and heart ache that can easily be avoided.

Medical payment coverage on your automobile insurance should not be overlooked.  It is my experience that most people do not know what the coverage is and why it is important.  This has led to them purchase less of this coverage than they should.   It is coverage that provides medical payments for your injuries in an automobile accident.  Most insurance policies will provide coverage regardless as to whom is the at fault driver.  This means you likely have coverage if you collide with someone else or if they collide with you.  Medical payment coverage is a great benefit if you have no medical insurance or have high deductible medical insurance because your medical bills will be paid up to the policy limits for injuries due to a motor vehicle accident.  Many insurance companies offer $5,000 per person per accident as the standard amount.   However, you should consider the cost to raise the limits higher and decide if that is a good financial decision for you to purchase more insurance.  Usually, the cost to have more coverage for medical payments is low and the addition money in coverage will be worth every penny if you ever need it due to a motor vehicle accident.  Most companies will offer medical payment coverage of $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000.  Some will offer higher amounts so shop the companies to determine who can provide the coverage you prefer at a reasonable price.  Remember, medical payment coverage is only part of your insurance policy.  Review each part of your insurance policy with a representative of the insurance company to make sure you understand the coverage you are buying.

A common question people ask is why do they need an attorney involved in a real estate transaction.  The answer is that it depends on the individual transaction.  An attorney can write the contract and work with you to close the transaction.  Or, you can hire a real estate agent or broker licensed by the state of Montana to write contracts for real estate transactions.  However, they should not be advising you on legal issue beyond the contract and are told in countless continuing educations course not to do so, but to recommend that the client visits with an attorney.  My experience in real estate litigation often stems from the agent or broker doing something they should not be doing, like giving legal advice.  A good guide line as to whether you should hire an attorney is you gut instinct.  If you are getting nervous about the answers and explanations you are receiving in a transaction, consult an attorney.  If you are purchasing a piece of property that is unique, large and expensive, you should consult an attorney.  Many times a review of the transaction is affordable and it gives you piece of mind that an attorney has reviewed the transaction and their malpractice insurance will likely cover a mistake they make.  If your transaction involves land, easements and water rights, I suggest you visit with an attorney.  The most common real estate disputes I see are over easements, water rights and boundary lines.  All of these issues become relevant when the land is being split into smaller parcels that were once a large tract of land and this happens all the time in Montana.  An attorney can review the legal history of the property and provide an opinion that states what you easement is and is not, etc.   If you are looking to purchase real estate in Montana and do not know if you should hire an attorney, call Wagner Law Firm because the initial consultation is free.

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