I represent clients after they have been involved in an automobile accident. At that point, the last thing I want to tell my clients is that they did not have the coverage they needed.
I always encourage my clients to educate themselves about their insurance policies and to make necessary changes before it is too late. I would challenge you to do the same, and to do it yearly.
Instead of just renewing your auto policy, take the time to thoroughly review it and understand it. Do you know what coverage you need? Do you know what your insurance policy actually covers?
Here are some very basic tips and things to look for:
Do you have enough liability coverage?
North Carolina motor vehicle law requires that automobile liability coverage be continuously maintained. This is insurance that protects others
and provides payments to those not at fault for any injury or property damage you cause.
Having this coverage does not pay you anything; it does not cover your injuries or damages. It covers those whom you injure if you are at fault.
You are required to carry a minimum of 30/60/25. This means $30,000 bodily injury for each person, $60,000 total bodily injury per accident (to be split among multiple claimants in an accident, with no one person getting more than $30,000), and $25,000 for property damage.
Everyone’s needs are individual, and this is where you need to have a candid conversation with your agent about your coverage and amounts of your liability policy. Seeing automobile accidents from the claims side, it is rare that I would advise you to carry only minimum limits; you likely need more, significantly more.
Also, think about how your situation may have changed from when you first became insured with your current limits. Have you gotten a major promotion, graduated from school and started in the workforce, or acquired rental property or other assets? All these changes will affect the coverage you need to carry.
If you have significant assets to protect or are a high-wage earner, you should consider getting an umbrella policy to provide additional coverage above your liability policy.
You should carry the maximum amount of Medical Payments Coverage
Medical Payments Coverage (“Med-Pay”) pays for reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses for you
and your family
or passengers. This is your opportunity to get some coverage on your policy that protects you and your loved ones, instead of someone else, in the event of an accident.
Med-Pay can be claimed regardless of fault. Most N.C. policies provide a maximum of $5,000 or $10,000, and the coverage is usually fairly inexpensive. I would recommend everyone have Med-Pay on their auto policy.
Do you have enough Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage?
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is also an opportunity to protect yourself.
Auto insurance policies with the minimum bodily injury and property damage limits are required to include Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage only.
If you have a policy with limits greater than the minimum of 30/60, you will have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (both “UM” and “UIM”). This coverage comes in to play if you are not at fault, but the person who was at fault does not have any coverage or does not have enough coverage to compensate you for your losses.
This is another area where you should have a candid conversation with your agent about your individual needs and ensure you have sufficient limits.
Deedee Gasch has over a decade of experience litigating catastrophic claims involving serious injury or death. While Deedee’s practice is primarily focused on the defense of premises liability, trucking and commercial vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, she also has a wide range of civil litigation experience. She spent approximately half of her career representing injured plaintiffs before returning to her first love of civil litigation defense work. This experience on both sides of a case uniquely situates her in negotiations and at trial if settlement is not possible. Deedee is a third-generation Tar Heel and attorney, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a North Carolina Resident Superior Court Judge (deceased), and her father, a career trial lawyer. She has dual degrees in Journalism and Political Science and earned her law degree cum laude from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida, where she attended on a prestigious merit based scholarship. She is licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and Florida.