Understanding Car Insurance Coverage in North Carolina
Helping the people of Charlotte with uninsured and underinsured motorist claims
Here in North Carolina (and in all states), it’s illegal to drive a vehicle on public roads without insurance. Each state may have different levels of insurance, but they require insurance nonetheless. Some drivers may choose a full-fledged insurance policy. Some may choose to purchase just the minimum required. Some, unfortunately, choose to drive without insurance, even knowing it’s against the law.
Having a good knowledge of auto insurance and how it works gives you an advantage when seeking compensation for your injuries after a car accident. The personal injury attorneys at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC, have decades of combined experience helping the people of Charlotte and throughout North Carolina secure fair compensation after vehicle accidents. Contact us today for more information.
Components of Car Insurance
We’ll discuss auto insurance in the context of an accident.
There are a few insurance components that can come into play with your – or the other party’s – insurance policy following a car crash.
- Bodily injury liability insurance is coverage for other people injured if you are at fault in an accident. It doesn’t cover injuries for you or your passengers.
- Med Pay coverage pays only the medical expenses for anyone in your vehicle, regardless of who is at fault.
- Property damage liability coverage will pay for damage to another person’s vehicle or property if you’re at fault in an accident. Damage to your own vehicle when you’re at fault can be covered under an optional collision policy.
- Insurance Requirements and Minimums in North Carolina
North Carolina requires a 30/60/25 minimum amount of liability car insurance coverage.
- $30,000 for bodily injury liability per person injured in an accident that’s your fault
- $60,000 for total bodily injury liability when two or more people are injured in an accident you cause
- $25,000 for property damage per accident that’s your fault
Many people do – and should – carry higher levels of coverage for protection in the event a car or motorcycle crash leaves them with injuries and damage that surpasses insurance limits.
Additional Insurance Options
In addition to mandatory insurance requirements, there is optional coverage available. Even though they may not be required by law, your bank or auto lender may require them while you make payments on a vehicle:
- Collision coverage, for damage to your vehicle caused by a collision with another vehicle or object.
- Comprehensive coverage, which covers damages to your vehicle from vandalism, theft, or acts of nature.
- Other optional insurance coverage includes death and disability benefits, rental car and towing coverage.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
When you purchase car insurance in North Carolina, it includes protection against uninsured motorists. Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is mandatory in our state. If an uninsured driver causes an accident that injures you or any of the occupants of your vehicle, UM will pay for medical bills and property damage.
This coverage also applies if someone commits a hit-and-run or causes an accident and leaves the scene without identifying themselves. Your UM coverage should include medical expenses, lost wages, and repairs. In other words, uninsured motorist coverage means that your own insurance company steps in for the at-fault driver’s lack of insurance. You receive the same amount of coverage you have on your policy – which is why it’s not in your best interest to carry just the minimum amount of UM, even though it seems less expensive up front.
For example, if you have $30,000 of UM on your policy and are injured in a hit-and-run accident, you will only receive $30,000 from your insurance company, even if your injuries and damages far exceed that amount. It’s a good idea to thoroughly read your auto insurance policy before purchasing, and review it from time to time with your personal injury attorney.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
Some drivers have only the minimum required amount of insurance coverage. Unfortunately, in some cases, when these drivers cause a serious accident, their insurance may not be enough to cover your medical bills.
With underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), your own policy will kick in when the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient. Your UIM typically pays the difference between the other driver’s liability limits and your own UIM limits.
Underinsured motorist coverage, however, doesn’t cover vehicle damage. If your car damages exceed the other driver’s policy, your collision coverage might cover the difference.
What to Do When You’re Injured in an Accident
There’s one thing important to note about your car insurance if you’re injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault. When you go to the hospital or other medical facility to seek treatment, ensure you give billing staff your health insurance information and not car insurance information. Here’s why.
It’s true that if the other driver is found to be at fault, he or she will be responsible for your medical bills, but not immediately. In the meantime, you don’t want your bills to pile up and sent to collections. But there is another reason; many hospitals, to profit from patients’ injury claims, attempt to bill auto insurance instead of your health insurance. This allows the hospital to maximize the amount of money they can bill, but reduces the amount of money you can collect in your personal injury case.
To prevent this, don’t give any hospital or doctor any auto insurance information. It can be confusing when you’re admitted to the hospital with all of the paperwork to be signed. However, there is one paper called “Assignment of Benefits.” To protect your potential source of compensation – your car insurance – list your health insurance only. You are NOT required to provide auto insurance information.
North Carolina Car Insurance and Accident Attorneys
If you were injured in a car accident and have questions about recovering compensation, Warren & Kallianos can help. Our injury attorneys are well-versed in the area of car insurance law, ready to answer your questions and provide guidance on your claim. To schedule a free initial consultation at our office in Charlotte, please call 704-275-5593 or fill out our contact form.