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What Your Insurance Agent May Not Be Telling You About Your Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Policy

What happens if you are involved in an automobile accident but the other driver responsible doesn’t have enough liability coverage — or any insurance at all — and can’t pay for your injuries? You are not out of luck: your insurance company should help you. This is when your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage applies and may help compensate you for your injuries and damages.

What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage?

An uninsured motorist (UM) policy provides that a covered person will receive compensation due to an injury from a negligent, uninsured driver. It is found to some degree in most U.S. automobile insurance policies as this type of coverage is generally mandated by statute up to $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident for any policy with bodily injury or property damage coverage. UM coverage will pay for you, your family members, and your passengers’ injuries when you are involved in an accident, as long as the other person is uninsured and legally responsible for your injuries and/or damages.

What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage?

An underinsured motorist (UIM) policy provides that a covered person will receive compensation due to an injury from a negligent, underinsured driver. The UIM coverage will apply and provide additional compensation if the driver responsible has liability coverage but not enough to compensate for your bills associated with your injuries or damages. UIM coverage in North Carolina provides additional compensation beyond the underinsured, negligent driver’s liability limits.

Why is it important?

In the case of an accident, you and your family need to be protected against negligent motorists. North Carolina General Statute requires that all drivers carry uninsured (UM) coverage only and then only up to $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident. So while you have at least some protection, this is not nearly enough coverage. We recommend that you have $1 million of UM/UIM coverage on your policy to protect you and anyone riding with you.

What does an UM/UIM Policy cover?

Photo credit: Rob! via VisualHunt / CC BY

Photo credit: Rob! via VisualHunt / CC BY

You can benefit from your UM/UIM policy and receive compensation for such things as the following:

  •   Medical bills
  •   Lost wages
  •   Pain and suffering

Who qualifies as an UM/UIM?

The negligent driver may be considered an “uninsured motorist” if he or she does not have liability coverage or has not been paying for his/her insurance and therefore his or her policy has lapsed. The negligent driver may be considered an “underinsured motorist” if he or she does not have enough liability coverage to compensate for you or your family’s injuries and damages.

So how does your UM/UIM policy work?

Say you are in an accident and you break your leg. Your medical bills alone are $40,000 and the driver responsible is an uninsured or underinsured motorist. When trying to receive compensation, you will need to file the claim under the UM/UIM section of your policy. Your insurance company will take on the responsibility for paying for your damages and injuries, up to the amount of available coverage.

However, the amount of UM/UIM coverage varies and this means your insurance company may not be able to pay for the whole lump sum. In North Carolina, UM/UIM coverage generally comes in the following amounts but the amounts actually offered may differ depending on the insurance company providing coverage:

  •   30/60 – $30,000 per person/ $60,000 per accident
  •   50/100 – $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
  •   100/300 – $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident
  •   250/500 – $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident
  •   $1 million – $1,000,000 per person or accident

In the above scenario, if your policy provides 30/60 coverage, you would only be compensated $30,000 and left with a debt of $10,000 that you may have to pay yourself. We advise that you carry $1 million of UM/UIM coverage in order to ensure as much protection as you can get for you and your family if tragedy happens. You will be surprised how little $1 million of UM/UIM coverage actually costs per payment period, especially when compared to the benefit of having this amount of protection should you need it.

If you have questions about what is best for you and your family, don’t hesitate to contact us. Being injured and worried about bills can be a headache. We may be able to help you receive just compensation from your insurance company or give you advice about what to do next in your case. Call us today for a free consultation and let Kelly & West protect you.

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