Archive for the ‘Auto Insurance’ Category

Understanding your auto insurance policy – Uninsured Motorist Coverage

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Today we’re sharing a guest post from the N.C. Advocates for Justice about the importance of having Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.

You can learn more about the different types of auto insurance coverage and understanding your policy in these articles:

Being involved in a wreck is a bad situation. Being involved in a wreck that is not your fault and where the other driver has no insurance is worse. Although N.C. law requires liability insurance, the reality is many drivers on the road lack liability insurance to pay for harm they may cause. Fortunately, since 2009 every policy of personal auto insurance issued in North Carolina requires coverage for this type of situation. That coverage is called Uninsured Motorist or “UM” coverage. This is not to be confused with Underinsured Motorist or “UIM” coverage, which applies when the at-fault driver has some insurance coverage, but not enough to cover the harm caused.

N.C. law requires that all policies have a minimum of $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident of UM coverage for injury and $25,000 for property damage, with the option to select higher limits. This coverage pays for damage to your car, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages resulting from your injuries. In essence, the UM coverage on your policy steps into the shoes of the uninsured at-fault driver and pays damages that person could be held responsible for under the law, with a few exceptions.

One such exception is punitive damages. Punitive damages involving automobile are most often situations involving drunk driving, racing, or similar plainly dangerous and reckless behavior. Punitive damages are intended to punish the reckless driver for what he did and deter him or her (and others) from repeating that conduct in the future. While the law allows that claim against the reckless driver, your UM coverage would not pay punitive damages even if a jury allows them.

“Hit-and-run” situations also require a particular analysis in North Carolina. In order to have a valid UM claim in North Carolina in a hit-and-run situation, you must prove “contact.”

The “contact” rule does not require the hit-and-run motorist contact your car. As long as the hit-and-run motorist contacts some vehicle or object which contacts your car, then you can be covered under the UM coverage.

Two different scenarios can show how that plays out. Let’s say you are driving to Wednesday night church, and your pastor happens to be traveling behind you in his car. As you enter a curve, an oncoming car is over the center line and heading towards you. If that vehicle hits your car, but doesn’t stop and leaves the scene never to be identified, you have a valid UM claim for any injury. That’s because of the physical contact between the hit-and-run vehicle and your own.

Alternatively, if you swerve to avoid the car and there’s no contact, but you end up going off the road damaging your car or being hurt, there is no UM coverage. This is true even if your pastor would swear under oath that you did nothing wrong and had to swerve or be hit head on. This can leave you with medical expenses that still must be paid. For property damage to be covered under UM, contact along is not enough. A valid UM claim for property damage requires both contact and the identification of the hit-and-run or uninsured driver responsible.

Requiring contact for a valid UM claim is designed to prevent fraud, so a person can’t simply wreck their vehicle on their own and falsely claim another driver caused it. A trend in other states to combat potential fraud, but allow UM coverage, involves allowing a UM claim with no contact if there is an independent witness or other corroborating evidence. To date, North Carolina has not followed that trend and we remain a strict “contact” state.

Facts in specific situations can result in different answers, and this basic description of UM coverage does not cover all scenarios. If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation like the ones described, seek legal advice for your particular situation. And remember, to protect yourself against drivers who lack sufficient insurance you should review your current coverage with your agent and purchase protection such as Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage in high enough limits to cover you and your family.

If you have been injured in an auto, truck or motorcycle accident, give us at call at (866) 373-1130 or contact us here If you have been involved in an automobile, truck or motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for car repairs, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, permanent impairment, mileage to and from your doctors’ appointments, prescription costs and rental car fees.

Don’t Skip This Important Insurance Coverage

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Anyone who has been in a car accident knows that getting insurance to pay is never as easy as it seems in TV commercials.

The insurance companies have created the perception that simply having automobile insurance will protect you if you’re involved in a car accident. But to get the most out of their insurance, consumers need to make sure they have the right kind of coverage.

If your auto insurance policy does not include Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Medical Payments (Medpay), you could be left with medical bills to pay out of your own pocket even if someone else caused your injuries.

North Carolina law requires all drivers to carry automobile liability coverage. But many people break the law and drive without any liability insurance coverage. Or their insurance policy may not be sufficient to cover all the expenses of an accident.

Minimum coverage amounts

The law states the minimum coverage requirements are $30,000 for bodily injury per person and $60,000 per accident. That may seem like a lot of money, but consider that healthcare costs are rising and just a trip to the emergency room could easily cost more than $5,000 and much more than that if you have traumatic injuries.

If your injuries require extensive treatment over several months, you could have medical bills that exceed the minimum coverage limit. Then what happens?

Doesn’t the liability carrier HAVE to pay my medical bills no matter how much they are?

The surprising answer is not always. If the at-fault driver has no insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage on his policy, you could be responsible for medical bills that exceed his coverage limits. That’s why you have to protect yourself.

How do I protect myself?

This is the easy part. Auto insurance carriers offer Uninsured (UI) and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). UI and UIM are typically sold together and listed as separate coverage on your policy.

Uninsured coverage (UI) covers you if the at-fault driver failed to carry liability insurance or if you were injured by a Hit and Run driver. As long as you can prove there was actual contact between your vehicle and the driver who fled, you can recover your damages under your UI provision. If this happens to you, be sure to notify your insurance carrier within 24 hours of the collision.

Underinsured coverage (UIM) covers you if the other driver doesn’t carry enough coverage. An underinsured driver is defined as someone whose liability coverage limits are less than your own and not enough to cover the expenses of the people injured in the accident.

This means that to protect yourself adequately, you should carry more than the minimum limits. You should have at least $50,000 in UIM on your policy and more if you can afford it. UIM will pay the difference between the other driver’s liability limits and your own Underinsured Motorist limits.

Check your policy or contact your agent today to see if you are adequately covered. Tell your agent that you need to have at least $50,000 in UIM on your policy.

Ask your agent about medpay as well since this type of coverage is usually very affordable.

During hard economic times, it can be tempting to get the least amount of coverage required by law, but too frequently we see people who took that risk and ended up with unpaid bills.

Download this handy chart that explains what the different types of auto insurance cover

 

 

Handy Information If You’re Ever in an Accident

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Did you know we have lots of helpful downloads on our website?

If you haven’t already downloaded a copy of these resources, you should. They’ll help you when you’re shopping for insurance or if you ever involved in an automobile accident.

Do you have the right auto insurance coverage? Find out here.

Do you know what to do after an auto accident? Our Auto Accident Basics newsletter includes everything you need to know about crashes. It even includes a list of tips that you’ll want to clip and save for your glovebox.

Auto insurance policies can be confusing. We explain how to read your auto insurance policy here.

If you prefer to download a copy, you can access that here.

 

Progressive’s underhanded treatment of accident victim’s family goes viral

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A blogger named Matt Fisher recently posted about his family’s treatment at the hands of Progressive Insurance: “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court.”

Fisher’s sister, Katie, was killed in 2010 in an auto accident when another driver ran a red light. The other driver was underinsured, but Katie carried Progressive insurance underinsured motorist coverage that should have kicked in and paid benefits to her family.

Katie Fisher and Matt Fisher and Progressive InsuranceSource

Only it didn’t because Progressive refused to accept that the other driver was at fault for the accident (even though his insurance company quickly accepted fault and settled with the dead woman’s family). Instead, Progressive refused to pay on the claim, forcing the family to take the other driver to court to prove his fault in the accident and force Progressive to do the right thing.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Progressive actively participated in the other drivers’ defense to avoid paying on the family’s claim. (Remember, Progressive was Katie’s insurance company; the other driver had insurance with another company.

According to a story by CNNMoney:

What really irked Fisher was that Progressive actively participated in the other driver’s legal defense. His scathing post about the debacle quickly went viral and turned into a social media nightmare for Progressive.

The company has spent several days trying to explain its actions. In its latest blog post, in which it announced the settlement, Progressive wrote that it “participated in the trial procedures on our own behalf while Nationwide represented the other driver.”

On Aug. 9, a jury found the other driver at fault.

After Fisher’s blog post when viral, resulting in a backlash agains the insurer,  Progressive settled with Katie’s family. We expect that is little solace after the hell the insurance company put them through.

Unfortunately what Fisher and his family went through are pretty typical insurance company tactics to avoid paying on legitimate claims. What a horrible injustice this family suffered at the hands of Progressive Insurance in their time of grief.

To read more about what the Fisher family endured at the hands of Progressive, start with Matt Fisher’s original blog post here, Progressive’s statement in response, Fisher’s response to that, the CNN story about the case and finally Matt Fisher’s post after the long-overdue settlement was announced.

If you find yourself in an auto accident, we hope some free resources available on our website that will help you when dealing with your auto insurance company:

Check out our Auto Accident Basics newsletter. And I also recommend that you check out our guide to the different types of automobile insurance available. Now is the time that ask the important question, “Do I have the right auto insurance?” not after an accident. 

Auto Insurance Coverage: What You Need to Know

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Do you have GAAP insurance? Do you need it? Do you even know what it is?

What about Med Pay?

What are your insurance liability limits?

Are you a candidate for an umbrella policy?

Is your automobile insurance adequate to protect and provide for you after an accident? 

That last question is one you should be asking yourself and your insurance agent now — before you have an accident and find out that you don’t have coverage you desperately need.

We’ve done the research for you and have created a cheat sheet chock full of information about the different types of automobile insurance and coverages available to you. You can download our free report, “Do You Have the Right Insurance Coverage?” here.

We recommend you print out  a copy of this document and take it with you when you meet with your insurance agent.

The first page of the report is designed to go in your glovebox. It tells you what to do after an auto accident to make sure everyone is safe and you’re protected in the case of an injury.

Download as many copies of the checklist as you need and put them in your car, your spouse’s car, your kids’ cars and your parents’ cars. It’s designed to go in the glove compartment with your registration card.

Even for our own employees, it’s easy to forget what to do in the chaos after an auto accident. Our checklist will help you keep your wits about you and will ensure that you don’t forget to get some crucial bit of information, such as the names and contact information for all witnesses.

If you haven’t explored the Resources section of our website, I recommend you do so. There, you’ll find lots of helpful downloads and information, including our newsletter about what to do if you are injured in an auto accident and how to read your insurance policy.

We hope you’ll never need these documents, of course. But better to be prepared.

Do You Have the Right Auto Insurance?

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Do you have the right kind of insurance to protect you in an automobile accident?

Despite what their commercials say, the insurance company won’t take care of you in an auto accident unless you take things in your hands.

Don’t leave it in their hands. Make sure you have the right kind of insurance coverage and know what questions to ask when filing a claim.

  • What are you liability insurance limits?
  • Do you carry collision insurance?
  • Does your policy include Medical Payments (or Med Pay) coverage?
  • Do you have Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage?
  • Do you need additional endorsements or insurance, such as GAP coverage or an umbrella policy?

Later this week, we’ll be bringing you a series of articles detailing each type of insurance coverage and explaining how much of each type of coverage you need to protect you in the event of an accident.