Important Information About Auto Insurance Coverage in North Carolina Auto Accidents
As a driver in Charlotte, North Carolina, you are required to carry certain minimum amounts of liability insurance coverage on your vehicle, just in case you ever cause or contribute to a wreck. This is because North Carolina is a fault-based state when it comes to automobile collisions. In no-fault states, where the drivers are required to turn to their own insurance policies for damages, each driver must have personal injury protection and property damage protection on their own vehicles. In fault states, like North Carolina, the requirements are for liability coverage for personal injuries or property damage caused to others.
Minimum Requirements for Liability and UM/UIM Coverage in Charlotte
Not all fault-based states have the same minimum requirements for liability coverage. In Charlotte, North Carolina, you must have bodily injury liability coverage at a minimum of $30,000 for one person’s injuries in an accident and $60,000 for multiple persons in an accident. You must also have property damage liability coverage at $25,000 per accident.
North Carolina is a little bit different from many other fault-based auto insurance states because uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is automatically offered as the default option, and a driver must make a choice to affirmatively reject such coverage in order not to have it. When a motorist carries liability limits in excess of the minimum requirements ($30K for injury to one person, or $60K for injury to multiple persons), then the motorists insurance policy also comes with Underinsured Motorist coverage by default. The default limits of this coverage are equivalent to the liability insurance limits on the motorist’s policy. As with Uninsured Motorist coverage, the driver must make a choice to affirmatively reject such coverage in order not to have it. With respect to both Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage, the purpose of such insurance is to protect you and your family and loved ones, so this coverage should not be rejected. Underinsured Motorist coverage is only available in North Carolina on automobile insurance policies where the amount of liability coverage purchased is greater than the minimum insurance limits required by law.
The purpose of Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage is to ensure that if the at-fault driver does not have adequate coverage, or does not have any coverage at all, there will still be coverage for the damages of the victim. Each driver should have UIM coverage that is equal to their liability coverage. A driver may elect to purchase UIM coverage at different limits than their liability coverage.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage Options in NC
While liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage are required, many drivers choose to purchase additional forms of auto insurance coverage. In some cases, these options are actually required by the bank who lends funds to the driver to purchase the vehicle. This is often the case with comprehensive coverage. It is not legally required, but it may be required by the contract that you signed with your lender. Comprehensive coverage is intended for any damages that do not result from an auto accident, including vandalism, theft, weather damage, etc.
Collision coverage is another optional form of auto insurance coverage which will address any damages that result from any kind of collision, including collision with vehicles, animals, and inanimate objects. You can also purchase additional coverage for any situations where your vehicle must be towed and situations where you require a rental car until your vehicle damage is repaired. A victim of an automobile collision may elect to seek to have their property damage covered through the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, or the victim may elect to have their property damages covered through collision coverage on their own automobile insurance policy.
You Will Need Proof of Insurance to Register Your Vehicle in Charlotte
Whenever you go to register your vehicle in Charlotte, North Carolina, you will have to provide proof of your auto insurance policy in one form or another. For example, you may have a DL-123 form from your auto insurance company, which proves that you have a current policy with that insurer. You could also bring the actual policy with you as proof. Other options include an insurance binder or an insurance card. You will need to get your proof of insurance from your auto insurance company.
What Is The Safe Driver Incentive Plan in North Carolina?
North Carolina also has a Safe Driver Incentive Plan which involves a points based system. This system causes individuals who engage in unsafe driving behaviors to get points against them and thus have higher auto insurance premiums. Any time you receive a traffic violation, you get points that directly relate to the cost of your insurance, unless the traffic violation is extremely minor and defined by law as one that does not get reported to insurance. A single point can result in as much as a 30% increase on your auto insurance premium payments. Not all offenses are equal, however. A more serious offense or violation will result in more points against you. A subsequent violation will result in even more points.
What Happens When Your Auto Insurance Lapses in Charlotte, NC?
Legally, you are not allowed to let your auto insurance lapse in Charlotte, North Carolina. If the DMV finds out that your insurance has lapsed, then you may be asked to confirm your coverage by getting an FS-1 form as proof from your auto insurance company. If your insurance really did lapse, then you won’t be able to get proof of coverage, and you will owe the DMV a number of fines and penalties. Beyond this, you can also have your license plate revoked for 30 days. You won’t be able to get your license plate reinstated until you pay any and all fees associated with your violation and also provide evidence in the form of the FS-1 form that you do have a current auto insurance policy.
How Auto Insurance Fraud in Charlotte Affects All Drivers
Whenever you make your auto insurance premium payments, that money is used to cover any automobile collisions in which you might be involved. It also is used to cover the auto accident claims of others who have auto insurance policies with the same company. Thus, when other drivers commit auto insurance fraud in Charlotte, North Carolina, it affects everyone. Some examples of how auto insurance fraud occurs include fraudulent auto repairs, overstating the cost of such repairs and damages, staged auto accidents, intentionally causing a wreck, or lying about drivers, passengers, and witnesses. If you suspect auto insurance fraud, you should report it.
Many Drivers in Charlotte, North Carolina, Are Eligible for Auto Insurance Discounts
Depending on which auto insurance company you work with and your own unique situation, you may be eligible for a variety of different discounts on your auto insurance coverage. Consider the availability of such discounts when shopping for insurance. Find out if the insurance company offers discounts for safe drivers, for good students, for those with multiple vehicles, for homeowners, or for safety devices.
Regardless of what kind of auto insurance coverage you have, you can always benefit from a legal consultation after any collision. Call an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina auto accident attorney at Brown, Moore & Associates to schedule your consultation and learn more about your rights and options after an auto accident.