In an era of extreme economic downturns and job insecurity, having a car at your disposal has never been more necessary for work, job interviews and providing other basic fiscal needs…even as you consider a personal bankruptcy. Fortunately, in most places a regular car, as in one single car, is usually exempt from bankruptcy to allow average Americans just like you to get to work, school and make runs for basic needs and necessary family errands.
However, if you do find yourself seeking the financial benefits of bankruptcy, it’s important to avoid putting the brakes on regular car maintenance, including basic car insurance and automobile upkeep.
In short, in bankruptcy, it’s important to keep what you do have intact. So, when you file for a personal bankruptcy, under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you are required to keep your vehicle insured even if that personal property is deemed exempt from the bankruptcy coffers; even if the vehicle has been completely paid off; and even if you, as the bankruptcy debtor, do not currently use or drive the vehicle.
Why, you might ask? You must keep your car insured because, upon filing for bankruptcy, your property automatically becomes a part of the larger bankruptcy estate; as such, the bankruptcy estate could be held liable for any claims against you, as the owner of the vehicle; more so, if that vehicle is, you guessed it… uninsured.
In practice, you file for bankruptcy and several days later you find yourself in a fender bender with no car insurance. This triggers a unique situation where the opposing driver can sue you and possibly could sue the bankruptcy estate. And when someone goes after property in the bankruptcy estate it jeopardizes those assets for the purposes of your bankruptcy, creating a situation whereby non-exempt property (property that can be liquidated for the purposes of paying your creditors) could be reduced by a third party and, in the end, reducing the amount of money the creditors receive.
This scenario can trigger a few possibilities.
Stay Uninsured and Face the Consequences
For example, assume you are using a car that you’ve completely paid for with no insurance. You have an accident involving that same car several days after filing for bankruptcy; your part of the property and personal damages is $10,000. Assume also that your bankruptcy estate is filled with non-exempt assets worth a total of approximately $30,000. In this case, your accident involving your uninsured vehicle could literally cost your bankruptcy estate that same $10k, leaving on $20,000 to pay out to hungry creditors.
Stay Insured and Feel Protected
If, in the alternative, you heed this warning and stay insured throughout your bankruptcy, the insurance can absorb any related damages costs from a car accident, limited your liability both to another driver and the creditors seeking your bankruptcy estate. In a case where you are willing, but unable, to get the required car insurance, a bankruptcy trustee will sequester that car, and store it, for the purposes of avoiding any potential liability during the bankruptcy process and repayment plan.
So, to avoid any headaches, hassles or hardships the best rule of thumb is, if you are going to file bankruptcy, do so with insurance…and before your car gets repossessed.
Got more questions about property exemptions in bankruptcy? Well, knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can also help you not only conquer your creditors but also keep a much-needed car, yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— to keep you moving (literally and figuratively) in your fiscally-viable future. The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button and let these experts take the wheel to so you can start down the road to your next best financial steps.