In North Carolina, motorists are required to purchase an insurance policy that has at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage. This is considered a “minimum limits” policy because it’s the minimum amount of coverage you’re required to have under North Carolina law. This policy is also referred to as a 30/60 policy. This means that, if you are at fault for a wreck, the other vehicle can make a claim on your insurance for injuries up to $30,000 per person and $60,000 total per accident.
Although $30,000 may sound like a pretty high number, if you have serious injuries, medical bills can quickly add up to $30,000 leaving you nothing left for future medical bills or pain and suffering. One or two surgeries can easily exceed $30,000, as can a lengthy hospital stay or prolonged medical treatment. If you have health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, this may help with the bills, but it may not cover everything, and you may be stuck paying on medical bills for years to come for a wreck that wasn’t even your fault.
So how do you avoid this situation?
It’s actually easier and more affordable than you might think! In North Carolina, motorists can purchase additional insurance coverage known as Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM. UIM is a coverage that is added on to your auto or motorcycle insurance policy. UIM coverage starts at $50,000 and go on up to $500,000 or more.
How do I get UIM coverage?
If you add UIM coverage after you have already been in a wreck, it will not cover you for that wreck, so this is something you need to add ahead of time. To add UIM coverage to a new or existing insurance policy, contact your insurance agent. Your agent can go over the coverage options with you including the cost of adding various amounts of UIM coverage. If you purchase your insurance policy online, most online platforms allow you to select the coverage and amounts you want and then see an estimate. You can try adding different amounts of UIM (from $50,000 and up), different amounts of medpay, different deductibles, and different levels of bodily injury and collision coverage. Experiment with different policy configurations until you find a policy that provides the protection you want at a price that works for your budget.
How does UIM coverage work?
UIM is a coverage that is added to your personal insurance policy. If you are in a wreck and are not at fault, the other driver’s insurance will be the first policy to pay for your damages (such as medical bills and pain and suffering). If the other driver’s insurance policy isn’t enough to cover your damages, once you have collected the limits of their policy, you may be able to recover the additional damages by making a claim under your UIM coverage. Here’s an example of what that might look like:
Your Total Estimated Damages: $50,000
– At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance: $30,000
Your Unpaid Damages $20,000
Your UIM Policy: $50,000
– Credit for Liability Insurance Settlement: $30,000
Amount remaining for you to make a UIM Claim: $20,000
Your Remaining Estimated Damages: $20,000
– Amount of UIM Coverage Remaining: $20,000
Amount of Your Damages That Aren’t Covered: $0
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, identifying all insurance coverages available to you is important. You may have one or more insurance policies available to you depending on factors such as whether the at-fault driver also owned the vehicle, whether the at-fault driver was driving a company vehicle, whether the at-fault driver had insurance at all, whether you have UIM coverage, who you live with, and more! For most people, sorting through insurance coverage can be overwhelming, especially when you’re also dealing with injuries, lost time from work, doctor appointments, and more.
The personal injury attorneys at Burton Law Firm have experience handling serious injury claims and multiple insurance policies. In 2016, we represented several individuals injured by an intoxicated driver and helped our clients recover under 9 different insurance policies. More recently, we successfully appealed a complex UIM matter all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Before you try and handle this on your own, give us a call. We provide free consultations, and we will walk you through the process and answer your questions. We’re here for you, and we’re committed to your recovery. Call Burton Law Firm today.