A car accident can change your life in an instant. It is stressful, can cause personal injury, and affect your family and recovery for years. From medical expenses to property damages, many financial challenges can arise. What if the person responsible for your car accident is not insured or is underinsured? Here is everything you need to know about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in Apex, North Carolina.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Though North Carolina Motor Vehicle Law requires all vehicle owners to maintain liability insurance as long as the car or other vehicle has a valid license plate, not all drivers obey or are aware of the law. If a driver collides with your vehicle and does not have insurance or is not financially capable of paying for the damages or possesses an insurance policy that does not meet the mandatory state criteria, they are termed an “uninsured” driver (UM). In the United States, approximately one in eight drivers on the road in 2015 was uninsured, according to a report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC).
Of the 93% of North Carolina drivers who do carry liability insurance, many only carry the minimum required ($30,000/$60,000), and in an accident this can make them “underinsured.” An underinsured (UMI) driver is one who meets the mandatory NC liability requirements but whose minimum limits do not adequately cover the damages and personal injuries they caused during the accident.
According to North Carolina motorist laws and requirements, all licensed drivers are required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Likewise, as per state law, insurance agents are required to include UM/UMI coverage when writing auto insurance policies. The minimum uninsured and underinsured coverage amount should be equal to the highest bodily injury that is covered by your motorist insurance. The minimum liability coverage per person in North Carolina for bodily harm is $30,000 and $60,000 for two or more people.
When you sustain damages or personal injuries due to an uninsured driver or underinsured driver, your UM/UMI coverage will step in to help out up to the the minimum amount that is included in your policy.
North Carolina has specific requirements when it comes to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in North Carolina is very similar to liability insurance policies. This type of coverage will take care of your injuries and property damages up to the amount mentioned in your insurance policy.
For example, if your policy coverage is $30,000/$60,000 liability ($30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident), your uninsured motorist coverage will not exceed this limit. In other words, if personal injuries and medical costs come up to $50,000 and it has been determined that the other driver is at fault and therefore legally responsible, then your uninsured motorist coverage will pay you $30,000 to cover your medical expenses, car repairs, property damages, etc. It is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney in Sanford to help you navigate insurance claims and obtain proper compensation related to your accident.
In North Carolina, a hit and run is also categorized as an uninsured driver if impact with the at-fault driver’s vehicle occurred. The uninsured coverage will cover your medical expenses up to the policy limit only when your claim is proven valid. Denied claims are often a barrier and can cause hardship to your family and your future. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you with a denied claim and defend your rights. For your claim to be valid, there are certain things to consider after a hit and run in North Carolina. These include:
- Reporting the accident to the authorities within 24 hours.
- The accident must include a “collision” between the two automobiles. North Carolina’s No Contact Rule stipulates that for uninsured motorist claims, there needs to be physical contact between the two vehicles to claim uninsured motorist coverage.
- You must notify the uninsured motorist of your claim as soon as possible, preferably within 72 hours.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
It may not be possible to cover medical expenses solely through minimum insurance limits. In such situations, underinsured motorist coverage can help if your coverage is greater than that of the at-fault driver.
This type of coverage always depends upon the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. For example, if your medical bills amount to $40,000 and the other driver has a minimum liability coverage ($30,000), then the underinsured motorist coverage will kick in and pay you the remaining $10,000 as long as your insurance policy is higher than the at-fault driver’s policy and the at-fault driver’s policy has been exhausted. Additionally, you must reach a settlement with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance before your underinsured motorist coverage is obligated to pay.
Keep in mind that uninsured motorist coverage doesn’t include property damage. Property damages can be paid under collision coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage will only cover the medical costs of personal injuries of the vehicle owner or family members.
If you have been involved in a car accident and may be facing the challenges of an uninsured or underinsured motorist, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney in Apex, North Carolina as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.