As a personal injury lawyer in Asheville, N.C, I deal with car insurance companies all the time. I help clients recover money from other people’s insurance as well as their own insurance. I help clients recover from liability insurance, underinsurance, uninsurance, medical payments, excess coverage, property coverage, and other forms of coverage. Here are some tips for when you purchase your next car insurance policy based on my experience as a car accident lawyer.

 

  • Do not settle for the minimum coverage required by N.C.

    I have had many clients tell me they are “fully covered” only to find out that they are covered only up to the minimum requirements. In North Carolina, the minimum coverage is $30,000 liability per person, $60,000 liability per accident and $25,000 property damage per accident. Here’s why this is not a good choice: Medical bills are extremely high and most injuries require thousands of dollars in medical bills even for a minor injury. If you cause an accident and injure someone who requires surgery, their claim against you will quickly exceed $30,000 because of the medical bills alone. If you only have the minimum $30,000 in coverage, the injured person can go after your assets for any additional compensation. Should the inured person get a judgment against you for any amount over the $30,000, that judgment will follow you around until you can find a way to pay it off.

  • Get as much “medical payments” coverage as your insurance company will allow.

    “Medical Payments” coverage pays for your reasonable medical bills as a result of a car accident no matter whose fault it is. In other words, medical payments, or “Medpay” covers up to your contracted amount even if the accident is your fault. It covers anyone in your car separately up to the amount you contract for. The best part about medpay is that it’s cheap. Really cheap. I currently pay about $40 per year for $25,000 in medical payments. I would get more but my insurance company only offers $25,000. On a side note, you can get medical payments coverage on your homeowner’s policy too.

  • Get Underinsurance coverage.

    This is NOT the same as Uninsurance.  Uninsurance will cover an accident that is not your fault and the at fault driver has no insurance at all. Uninsurance is standard on North Carolina policies. But Underinsurance is not standard. Here’s why it’s so important: the minimum North Carolina car insurance policy required by law is for only $30,000. This means that if the person who crashes into you only has $30,000 in insurance coverage, the most you can recover from their policy is $30,000 even if your injuries and medical bills require more than $30,000. Underinsurance covers you if the at fault driver does not have enough insurance to pay for your entire claim. Without underinsurance, you are the mercy of the at fault driver to carry enough insurance to cover al of your expenses and injuries.

  • Don’t go with an insurance company that advertises on T.V.

    In my experience, the more the company advertises, the less they are concerned with an insurance company’s real job, which is to fairly and reasonably pay for people’s injuries and losses. “Like a good neighbor”, “You’re in good hands” and “On your side” are not what these huge insurance companies are worried about their own customers and the people whom their customer’s have injured. That’s how they get customers, not how they treat people. As a good example, I handled a claim with a large insurance company that fought tooth and nail to claim that a client’s dentist bill was not “reasonable” because the insurance company thought the bill was too high. When I asked for evidence to support their position they said they had none, but were refusing to pay the bill anyway.

 

Of course, you never think you’ll need car insurance until you are involved in an accident – but consider that people are often distracted by cell phones, computers, GPS, and their lunch, all making it easy to be distracted on the road. I speak to people who’ve been in accidents every day, and when they have the proper insurance coverage, they are always glad they took the time and money to do it right.

 

 

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