Posted on June 14, 2016 by Mica Matlack
When faced with a devastating loss, the pressure of locating funeral and burial funds can wreak havoc and stress on newly bereaved families. There are many steps you can take to alleviate some of the costs; from foregoing a wake in favor of a direct burial or cremation and hosting a memorial later, to hosting your own home funeral. But in instances where the cause of death of the deceased was automobile related there is a chance your auto insurance, or the auto insurance of the other party, will cover all or part of your funeral costs through the use of PIP, No-fault coverage, or accidental death coverage policies.
Any death related claim is required to have taken place within a certain window of time, stipulated in your policy, though it is typically within 90 days of the accident. The deceased must have been disabled from the time of the accident to their death, or died due to a complication related to the accident, for death benefits to be paid. Make sure to check with your insurance company to verify the terms of your policy and familiarize yourself with its limitations.
The insurance company will only settle if the death was clearly a result of the accident so be sure to save any bills or medical reports from the moment treatment begins. It is recommended you request copies of all relevant documents to send to your insurance company, the insurance company of the opposite party, and extra copies for your records. Insurance companies cannot request medical bills and documents on your behalf so you must keep clear records if you intend to file a claim.
Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, is a form of coverage that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages, damages, and other death benefits. As long as you purchased a plan above the absolute minimum coverage, your insurance policy will specifically cover ordinary funeral and burial expenses of any persons deceased as the result of an accident. These are "protected" benefits, which means they have to be paid even if other benefits, such as medical expenses, have been paid in full. There are some limitations, though, and most PIP insurance policies will have an established window of time in which a claim must be filed in as well as a duration of time payments will be made for. When applying for survivor benefits, one must bear the burden of proof and provide proper documentation where lost wages and other death benefits, outside of funeral and burial costs, are concerned.
If you live in a No-fault State, your insurance is required to cover the cost of your injuries as long as your plan is above the state's minimum requirement. In No-fault sates, if you purchased a PIP policy, it will automatically cover a minimum to be claimed by your or your passengers in the event of an injury, regardless of who is at fault, including certain death benefits like funeral and burial fees. If you reside outside of one of these "no-fault" states, make sure you check with your insurance company to determine the level of coverage required for the same benefits. Also, some no-fault states may allow you to substitute your personal health insurance policy as your primary medical coverage, which can help reduce your PIP coverage premiums.
Hawaii, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York and Utah
Accidental Death Coverage, also known as Automobile Death Indemnity, provides coverage for funeral expenses if the driver of your vehicle is at fault for a motor vehicle related death. Depending on the insurance company and plan, Accidental Death Coverage generally offers $5,000 to $15,000 worth of benefits and is a relatively inexpensive add-on. Ordinarily, death benefits are paid out to any persons named in the declaration page of the deceased if they passed as a result of an injury sustained from a car accident. Recipients can be a spouse, child, parents of a minor, or payments can go to the estate of the insured. Keep in mind, Accidental Death Coverage does not necessarily pay for your own injuries and damages to your car or property. Each policy will have certain exclusions to their coverage so be sure to consult with your insurance company to clarify who is insured under your policy. At times, relatives, members of the same household or those who use your car may not be included in your policy if they are not explicitly declared. In addition, death benefits are optional, meaning you may not be covered for all funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and/or damages. As a result, you may be susceptible to lawsuits which may put your home and other assets at risk.
Through car insurance policies that include Personal Injury Protection (PIP), No-fault Coverage, and Accidental Death Coverage, money may be available to you following a motor vehicle related death within your own car insurance policy, or through the car insurance policy of the other parties involved. Make sure you understand your state's requirements and the limitations of your policy. It is recommended you consult an insurance attorney or lawyer if you are considering filing a claim following a death.