Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, particularly when the other driver is uninsured.
It’s estimated that more than seven percent of drivers in North Carolina don’t have auto insurance.
While North Carolina isn’t in the top 10 states for the most uninsured drivers, the statistics are still concerning, especially when examining uninsured motorist claims and insurance rates.
The consequences of driving without insurance affect individual drivers and insurance rates across the state. You’re probably wondering,
Does an uninsured motorist claim raise my rates? It could, in some instances.
Read on to learn more about North Carolina’s auto insurance requirements, uninsured motorist coverage, how to file an uninsured motorist claim, and whether or not filing a UM claim could raise your insurance rates.
What Are North Carolina’s Auto Insurance Requirements?
Auto liability insurance is not an option in North Carolina—it’s a legal requirement. State law mandates that all motorists have at least a minimum level of coverage.
You must carry liability insurance, which covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to another party.
The minimum liability requirements are $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
North Carolina also requires Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. The minimum requirements for UM coverage mirror those for liability insurance.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is designed to protect you financially if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Sometimes, the other driver might have insurance, but their carrier denies coverage for some reason. In this situation, your UM coverage might also apply.
If you’re in a hit-and-run, it may fall under your uninsured motorist coverage if the police cannot identify the other vehicle and driver.
Your UM coverage will help pay for medical bills, property damage, and other related costs typically covered by the other driver’s insurance.
This coverage extends to the driver and passengers in your vehicle. That means if you lent your car to someone else, your UM coverage would also extend to them.
Uninsured motorist coverage has two main components—bodily injury and property damage coverage.
The bodily injury portion will cover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The property damage will apply to your vehicle repairs or replacement and other property losses.
When an uninsured motorist causes an accident, your UM coverage can act as a safety net. However, it’s crucial to remember that this is not first-party coverage.
Your insurance company is “stepping into the shoes” of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
That means there will be a liability investigation, and your insurance company could find you partially responsible for the collision.
That will impact whether you will receive any compensation under your UM coverage.
How to File a UM Claim
If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, the first step is to notify your insurance company immediately.
Your insurance provider will explain the claims process, but you need to submit a formal claim to proceed with UM benefits.
Documentation is critical in these cases. You’ll want to collect evidence, such as accident scene photographs, police reports, and medical records, that support your claim. If witnesses were present, their statements could also strengthen your case.
Your insurer will then assess your claim, investigating the details of the accident, your coverage limits, and applicable state laws.
If approved, your UM coverage will kick in to cover the expenses the other driver’s insurance typically would have covered.
However, it’s still necessary to negotiate a settlement. The insurance company isn’t going to offer you the highest amount just because you presented evidence.
If the insurance company disputes your claim, it’s up to you to prove the other driver was liable. That means you could wind up filing a lawsuit against your insurance carrier if you cannot agree on liability.
Uninsured Motorist Claims and Insurance Rates
Understandably, your main concern may be what happens to car insurance rates after an accident. However, the answer to whether your rates will increase isn’t straightforward.
In North Carolina, a UM claim may or may not affect your insurance premiums. The act of filing a claim will not raise your rates. Your rates should not increase if you are not at fault for the accident either.
However, if you are partially responsible for the accident, you could see an increase in your monthly premium.
The amount will vary depending on variables such as your driving record, accident circumstances, and injury severity.
For example, following too closely might result in a 55% rate increase, whereas driving while impaired could result in a 340% increase.
Insurers consider multiple factors when determining your yearly premium independent of accidents, including geographical location, auto type, and vehicle use.
Someone with a significant number of points for prior accidents or moving violations might have a more substantial increase than someone with no points on their driving record.
Contact a North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
You need a legal advocate to represent your interests in a UM claim. At Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, we know what’s at stake when presenting a claim against your insurance company.
We started our careers as insurance defense attorneys and have over 30 years of combined legal experience. Our prior defense experience gives us unique insight into how insurance companies work.
Don’t navigate the UM claims process without a skilled lawyer. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
We will review your case and help you determine the best course of legal action.