If you have been injured in an automobile accident, it is important to know about all possible sources of insurance coverage to help you pay for your injuries. Underinsured and uninsured coverage is a part of your own automobile insurance that will pay for injuries to you or anyone in your vehicle if the at-fault driver is determined to be “uninsured” or “underinsured”. Underinsured and uninsured coverage will also pay for injuries to you or any relative living in your household even if your vehicle was not involved in the accident.
How do you know if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured?
An uninsured driver is anyone who does not carry any liability insurance, or is a hit and run driver. In the event of a hit and run at-fault driver, North Carolina law requires that the hit and run driver made contact with your vehicle to qualify as uninsured. A person is an underinsured driver when that person’s liability coverage is not high enough to cover you for all of your injuries and other damages. Underinsured or uninsured coverage will not kick in unless the at-fault driver is has no insurance, or not enough insurance coverage.
Example of uninsured coverage:
Imagine you are rear ended by another vehicle and you sustain injuries and damage to your vehicle. You find out that the driver of the car that hit you did not make his last insurance payment, and his coverage lapsed. Because the at-fault driver has no insurance coverage, he is considered uninsured. Consequently, you can file a claim against your own insurance company because of your uninsured coverage. Your insurance company is then responsible for your injuries and vehicle damage.
Example of underinsured coverage:
Imagine that you are rear ended by another vehicle and you sustain catastrophic injuries. Your medical bills alone are $45,000. In order be compensated fairly, you will need more than $45,000 for your total damages. However, you find out that the at-fault driver has only the state minimum $30,000 in liability coverage. You examine your own liability coverage and see that you have $100,000 in underinsured coverage. Consequently, you can file a claim against your own insurance company for up to $70,000 in additional coverage because of your “underinsured” coverage.
Keep in mind that your insurance company may not always notify you that you are entitled to your underinsured or uninsured coverage after an accident. It is important to know exactly what insurance coverage applies to your case before you settle your case with an insurance company. Contact a personal injury attorney to help you determine if there is coverage.
We recommend carrying at least $100,000/$300,000 in uninsured/underinsured coverage on your automobile. On average, this coverage costs about $34 additional each year per vehicle – well worth the extra $34!
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James Minick is a criminal defense attorney in Asheville, NC and is the owner of Minick Law, P.C.