Every day tens of thousands of drivers start their morning commute or errand run without knowing the answer to this simple, but vital question. Realistically, most drivers and vehicle owners do not find out the answer to the question until it is too late, after an accident happens. In some cases, the lack or insufficiency of insurance coverage results in the inability to replace a vehicle, or worse, a breadwinner’s income.
There are many types of insurance coverages available to North Carolina drivers. Personal automobile insurance policies in North Carolina typically offer liability coverage, comprehensive and collision coverage, medical payments coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and rental coverage. If you do not recognize these terms, or understand how they protect you, stop and read your policy. Each of these coverages insures against different types of events. For instance, liability coverage insures you for damage you do to others; medical payments coverage provides for payment of medical bills if injuries arise out of the use of a motor vehicle.
A common retort I hear when I ask about someone’s insurance coverage is, “I have full coverage.” In the twenty plus years I have been practicing, I have yet to see a policy that provides in its language the term “full coverage.” It is a term used by many to suggest that the state minimum requirements have been met. In North Carolina the law requires liability coverage to be continuously maintained. It also requires coverage for bodily injury of $30,000 per person, $60,000 per occurrence. Finally, it requires minimum coverage of $25,000 for property damage. With the rising cost of health care expenses and number of luxury vehicles on the road, this “full coverage” can be quickly exhausted. In the event that you, your teenager or your spouse causes an accident resulting in damages in excess of your liability limits, your personal assets could be in jeopardy, especially if you are underinsured!
Also consider that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers that carry only the minimum required limits or no insurance at all. What happens to you and your family in the event that you are struck by a driver with insurance insufficient to cover your losses or no insurance at all? If you fail to carry the correct types of coverage on your policy, you may be on the hook for replacement of your own vehicle, lost wages or medical expenses. In the most tragic of circumstances, the breadwinner of the family may be killed or disabled, leaving insufficient or no funds with which to pay medical expenses or replace the income lost because of the death or disability.
Fortunately there are numerous insurance products available to you and your family that provide coverage for many of these circumstances. I recommend a regular review of your business affairs, including your auto insurance policy. Think of it as a checkup every time you change your smoke alarm batteries.
We welcome the opportunity to speak with you, free of charge, to answer any questions you have about your automobile insurance policy and coverages and how your policy may interact with other available coverages.
Remember, you may have “saved a little money” on the insurance premium but you may not have adequate coverage to protect you and your family.
Author: Tim Zarsadias, Attorney
The McIntosh Law Firm, P.C.