Not a week goes by that we don’t receive a call from someone who’s been involved in a car accident, only to find out that the coverage they purchased is not the coverage they need. So, what do all those different types of car insurance mean anyway?
Let’s start with what’s required in North Carolina:
Liability – Bodily Injury
Generally, bodily injury coverage protects you in the event that you, or someone driving your vehicle under certain circumstances, causes harm to another person in a car accident. North Carolina law mandates that you carry a minimum of $30,000.00 per person and $60,000.00 per accident. This means the most any one person can recover from your insurance carrier is $30,000.00, but in the event that you cause harm to two or more people, the most the injured parties may collectively recover from your insurance carrier is $60,000.00.
Liability – Property Damage
Property damage coverage works in much the same way as bodily injury coverage in that it is fault-based. If you or someone driving your vehicle under certain circumstances causes damage to another person’s property, your property damage coverage protects you by reimbursing the other party for their property damage. North Carolina law requires its drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000.00 in property damage coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you elect to have automobile insurance with the statutory minimum limits, the law also requires you to have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, which protects you in the event another party causes you or your vehicle harm in a collision, but fails to have automobile insurance. In the event that you elect for a policy with coverage that is greater than the state minimums, your policy is required to have combined Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage.
Of course, the statutory requirements are simply the bare minimum coverage you must carry as a North Carolina driver to be in compliance with the law. You may very well wish to consider higher policy limits as well as several optional coverages discussed below.
What coverages are optional in North Carolina:
We’ve all rolled a stop sign and we’ve all driven in excess of the speed limit. It doesn’t make it ok, but we all make mistakes. Unfortunately, you generally cannot recover any damages for your losses if you contributed, at all, to the cause of an accident. Collision coverage is your lifeline in these situations because, without it, you are stuck paying for the damages to your vehicle. In the worst case scenario, your vehicle may be a total loss and, if you do not own your car outright, you’re stuck making payments on a vehicle that is inoperable. While it’s not mandatory to carry it in this state, purchasing collision coverage makes good sense for most people.
Comprehensive coverage works in much the same way as collision coverage in that it provides coverage in event your vehicle is damaged. The difference between the two is the source or cause of the damage. Comprehensive coverage provides you with coverage for damage to your vehicle caused by missiles or falling objects, fire, theft, larceny, explosions, earthquakes, windstorms, hail, water or flood, malicious mischief, civil commotion, or contact with a bird or animal, among other causes.
Medical Payments Coverage
Generally, medical payments coverage provides coverage to you, your family, or someone occupying your insured vehicle for reasonable and necessary medical or funeral expenses incurred as a result of a collision. These days, most health insurance plans require you to pay deductibles and/or copays when you need medical care. If you’ve been injured in a collision, medical payments coverage provides you with a resource to draw from to make sure you can afford the unexpected medical care you need.
There are also several other types of miscellaneous insurance coverages available to North Carolina drivers on an elective basis.
When prospective clients contact us after being involved in a collision, we hate being the bearer of bad news and advising them that their insurance coverage may not afford them the benefits they expected. We encourage you to contact your insurance agent to discuss questions about what coverage makes the most sense for you or, if you’ve already been involved in a collision, please get in touch with us. We’ll be glad to review your policy with you and discuss what coverage may be available to you.