If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, you may have a claim against your own insurance policy for uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) benefits. Even if someone else caused the wreck, these two types of coverage might be available to you. It’s important to understand that with BOTH of these types of claims, while you are dealing with your own insurance company, the law allows them to treat you as a complete stranger, meaning they will very likely approach the case just like a liability adjuster from another company would.
Uninsured coverage is just what it sounds like: it applies if you are hurt by someone without liability insurance of their own. Whether the defendant was knowingly driving without insurance, or if they had accidentally let their coverage lapse, if they don’t have any insurance, then your uninsured coverage should apply. If that happens, the claim will be against your own insurance policy. There are important points to this type of claim. Unlike a claim for UNDERINSURED coverage, if you are making a claim for UNINSURED coverage, you must make the claim before the statute of limitations expires, and if you file a lawsuit, you must serve your insurance company before that statute expires as well. Everyone in North Carolina has at least $30,000 in uninsured coverage, by law. However, you can purchase more coverage than that if you wish, but the only amount you can use in a wreck is the amount that you already had on your policy when the wreck happened.
Underinsured coverage is also what it sounds like: if you have an injury and the other driver does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for it, then you can apply for benefits through your own underinsured policy. The minimum amount of liability insurance coverage in North Carolina is $30,000. The minimum of underinsured coverage is $50,000, although you can buy more. Underinsured coverage is NOT required by law, so you may not have it. Underinsured “stacks” on top of the defendant’s coverage, but also gets a credit for all of their liability coverage paid out, so if the defendant has $30,000, and all of that is paid, you can get an additional $20,000 if you have $50,000 in total coverage. Underinsured benefits only pay out AFTER the defendant’s policy has paid out their policy, which is called “exhaustion of coverage.” Even if one dollar remains unpaid, you can’t get to your own coverage until that final dollar is paid out. Underinsured coverage can become very tricky if there are multiple policies available, so it’s always best to consult a lawyer before trying to navigate these claims.
The Miller Law Group has award-winning personal injury lawyers with over 50 years of combined experience with UM and UIM claims. Contact us today for a free consultation. If we don’t think we can help, we’ll tell you so. If we can help, we’ll take the case on a contingency fee, so you only pay if we get you a recovery.