After an accident, your first instinct might be to turn to your insurance company for help, but their priority is to maximize profits — not compensate you for your injuries and losses. Some states, like North Carolina, have policies and laws that complicate this insurance process even further and provide additional ways for insurance companies to avoid paying full compensation. Rather than turning to your insurance company, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately after your accident to discern if you have a valid claim.
Here’s what you need to know about North Carolina auto insurance policies and processes to keep you and your family safe on the road.
1. Is Auto Insurance Required in North Carolina?
Basic liability insurance, which covers damages to other people (bodily injury liability) and their vehicles (property damage liability) as the result of an accident involving the covered automobile, is required in the state of North Carolina.
2. What Is Contributory Negligence?
In North Carolina, the Contributory Negligence Law states that the injured party cannot collect any compensation from the other driver if the injured party was also at-fault for the accident. This applies even if the injured person is only 1% at fault and the other driver is 99% at fault. This harsh law hurts injury victims.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Is Negligence, Anyway?
3. What Is Med Pay Insurance and Why Do I Need It?
Med Pay covers all necessary and reasonable medical expenses of anyone in the covered vehicle up to the policy limits regardless of whether you played a role in the accident.
In states with contributory negligence laws, Med Pay is critical since being found 1% at-fault for an accident will leave you unable to collect any liability insurance money. (Collision insurance is also recommended to help pay for damages to your vehicle.)
RELATED ARTICLE: How Med Pay Coverage Can Help You After a Car Crash.
4. What Happens If I Don’t Have Auto Insurance?
Letting your auto insurance lapse (or not having any to begin with) will result in civil penalty fines, license suspension, and even jail time for repeat offenses.
Furthermore, in the event you’re found to be at-fault for a collision, you could pay anywhere from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars in out-of-pocket medical bills and damages to the other driver(s) — in addition to your own bills.
5. What Is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured and underinsured coverage helps protect persons who’ve been injured in an accident with a driver carrying little or no insurance.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: North Carolina requires all policies to include bodily injury and property damage uninsured motorist coverage. This covers drivers and pedestrians in cases where the negligent driver does not have any auto insurance.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage is only included in certain policies and adds additional coverage in situations where the negligent driver’s liability insurance has a very low policy limit.
6. What Affects My Insurance Rates?
Insurance companies base their rates on the driver’s level of risk. Some factors included in this risk calculation are:
- Credit score
- Driving history
- Location of residence
- Type of vehicle
- Average vehicle use
7. What Is the Safe Driver Incentive Plan?
The North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP) is a point-based system that increases the cost of your insurance based on the number of points on your record. Insurance rates are increased by a specific percent depending on the extent of the violation and its corresponding point value.
For instance, a single point is given for at-fault accidents resulting in damages less than either $1,800 in medical expenses or $2,300 in total property damage. This single point increases your insurance rates by 30%.
8. Does North Carolina Offer Auto Insurance Discounts?
Always ask about insurance discounts when looking for a new policy. Keeping a clean record is the most efficient way to save money on your insurance, but there are often discounts available as well. According to the North Carolina DMV, that might include discounts for:
- Excellent driving
- Being a good student
- Owning multiple cars
- Owning a home
- Installing an auto-theft alarm
9. What Should I Do After an Accident?
After an accident, you should call the police so a police report can be created. You should also collect the following information related to the other driver:
- Basic Information: Name, address, and phone number
- License Information: Driver’s license and license plate number
- Insurance Information: Name of the insurance company and policy number
Additionally, if you feel you are injured, even slightly, always seek medical treatment after an accident. Official documentation of your injuries can be very useful in insurance claims.
Before speaking to an insurance adjustor, you should contact a reputable and experienced personal injury lawyer.
RELATED ARTICLE: 8 Things You Should Never Do After an Auto Accident.
Contact Myers Law Firm If You’ve Been in an Accident
Winning an insurance claim in North Carolina can be a very complicated process. Due to Contributory Negligence Laws, if you are found to be just 1% responsible for the accident, the insurance company is not required to provide compensation. Working with a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer from the start can help you prove the other driver’s negligence and receive fair compensation for any injuries and damages you’ve suffered.
Contact Myers Law Firm for assistance navigating North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws and determining the strength of your potential claim. Please complete this brief online form or call (704) 376-3000 today to schedule your free consultation.
A consumer guide to automobile insurance. (2018, March). North Carolina Department of Insurance. Retrieved from http://www.ncdoi.com/_Publications/ Consumer%20Guide%20to%20Automobile%20Insurance_CAU1.pdf
North Carolina car insurance. (2013, October). Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from https://www.dmv.org/nc-north-carolina/car-insurance.php
What is the penalty for driving in North Carolina without insurance? (2017, November). Car Insurance Comparison. Retrieved from
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.