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What’s the Deal with Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Mar 6, 2020 Brown Moore

If you find yourself in an accident where the motorist at fault doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages, you don’t need to be too concerned. The underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM, will help take the worries away.

On this episode of When Accidents Happen, hosts Paige Pahlke and Jim Puritz dive into uninsured motorist coverage, an optional premium typically offered by insurance agents. They talk about the different situations where the coverage is applicable and the differences in certain states like North Carolina and South Carolina. Processes, specific procedures and other applicable policies you can redeem in this situation are also discussed in detail.

Key Moments From The Episode

  • [00:53] – What is underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)
  • [01:25] – Where this coverage is applicable
  • [02:33] – How the coverage works
  • [03:25] – Differences between plans in North Carolina and South Carolina
  • [04:06] – Process for determining UIM
  • [04:48] – Other applicable policies
  • [05:29] – Specific procedures to be followed

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When Accidents Happen is a podcast by Brown Moore and Associates, a personal injury law firm based out of Charlotte, NC. This podcast is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a personal injury attorney about your unique situation before making legal decisions. Visit our website for more online resources at ( , or better yet, call 704-335-1500 for a free initial intake interview so Brown Moore and Associates can evaluate your case.

Read Full Transcript

Intro:[00:02]Chances are, you're here because of an accident involving yourself or someone you love and before the dust even settles you're dealing with an insurance company that doesn't have your best interests at heart. You may be feeling overwhelmed, you may be feeling scared. Welcome to When Accidents Happen. A podcast brought to you by the attorneys of Brown Moore & Associates. With more than five decades of experience, our attorneys are here to guide you through these uncertain times and provide you with the information and answers you need today.
Jim Puritz:[00:36]Hello, I am Jim Puritz. I am here today with Paige Pahlke. Paige, how are you doing?
Paige Pahlke:[00:40]Doing well, Jim, how are you?
Jim Puritz:[00:41]And we are here for another episode of When Accidents Happen, brought to you by the attorneys of Brown Moore & Associates. And today we're here to talk about underinsured motorist coverage. Paige, what is underinsured motorist coverage?
Paige Pahlke:[00:53]Underinsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage that you pay an additional premium for and it's a coverage that kicks in when you're hit by a motorist who has insufficient insurance to cover your damages.
Jim Puritz:[01:09] You say it's optional. Does that mean it's something I have to go out and get or do I get this automatically?
Paige Pahlke:[01:11]So it's something that your insurance agent should offer to you and then you would have the decision to make about whether or not you wanted to pay for that coverage.
Jim Puritz:[01:21]And what type of situations fall under underinsured motorist coverage?
Paige Pahlke:[01:25]Sure. So when you are hit by a driver who... Let's do an example here. If you are injured in a collision and the driver who caused the collision only has the minimum limits, let's say $30,000 in North Carolina or in South Carolina, the $25,000. And your damages, which would include your medical bills, your lost wages and your pain and suffering, exceed that minimum limit, then we would be talking about underinsured motorist coverage and we would be seeking to recover under your underinsured motorist coverage. Just to kind of add a bit of detail to that, in order to have access or to be able to seek to recover under your underinsured motorist coverage, we need to exhaust the liability policy limit. And by exhaust, I mean that that liability policy limit, again, let's go with the $30,000 for North Carolina, the $25,000 for South Carolina, that needs to be offered by the defendant's insurance company.
Jim Puritz: [02:22]And you've mentioned that there are differences between North Carolina and South Carolina. Does that also apply in underinsured motorist coverage? Are there differences in how it works?
Paige Pahlke:[02:33]Yes. So in North Carolina with your underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance company will get an offset for the amount that the defendant's liability paid. So for the amount of the defendant's liability coverage. For example, if the defendant had the $30,000 minimum limit in North Carolina and you have a $100,000 UIM policy, your insurance carrier will get a $30,000 offset. So you could only seek to recover an additional $70,000 under your underinsured motorist coverage, as opposed to the full $100,000 that you have in coverage.
Jim Puritz:[03:11]Okay. And UIM, so I remember, is underinsured motorist coverage?
Paige Pahlke: [03:16]Yes. Thank you, Jim. Thanks for that clarification.
Jim Puritz:[03:19]Is that offset you discussed the same in North Carolina as it is in South Carolina or are there differences?
Paige Pahlke:[03:25]So yes, there is a difference. In South Carolina, your insurance company does not get an offset. So if the defendant had a $25,000 liability policy and you had $100,000 in UIM, after exhausting that $25,000 in liability coverage, we could then seek to recover an additional $100,000 in the UIM coverage on your behalf. There's no offset in South Carolina for underinsured motorist coverage or UIM coverage.
Jim Puritz:[03:55]So in North Carolina there is an offset and in South Carolina there is not.
Paige Pahlke:[03:59]Correct.
Jim Puritz:[04:00]And how does... Someone comes in to see us, how do we find out if they have under insured motorist coverage?
Paige Pahlke:[04:06]So like we talked about in our episode about uninsured motorist coverage, I want to be looking at the declaration page. And on that page there will be a line item for under insured motorist coverage and it'll indicate how much you have, if you do have it. Like we talked about, this is an optional coverage. So if you didn't purchase it, it may not show up on your declaration page or it may show that you declined that coverage. So I do need to see that declaration page to determine if you've got it. And if so, how much?
Jim Puritz:[04:37]I know there are differences between North Carolina and South Carolina. We've covered those, but are there other insurance policies that you can access? Is it just your own or are there other policies that may be available to someone?
Paige Pahlke:[04:48]Yes, thank you. That is a great question. What we want to be looking at is, do you have other vehicles and do you have insurance on those vehicles? If so, we want to look to see if you have underinsured motorist on those vehicles. Also, we want to look to see if any resident relatives you live with, so spouse, a parent, child, if they have vehicles, and if those vehicles are insured, do they have under insured motorist coverage? If so, we would want to seek to tap into that or recover for you under those additional coverages.
Jim Puritz:[05:24]Are there specific procedures that must be followed for someone to access under insured motorist coverage?
Paige Pahlke:[05:29]Yes, Jim. There are specific procedures that need to be followed and if they aren't followed then you can waive your right to recover under your underinsured motorist coverage. And we don't want that to happen and that's why we always want to be on board to help our clients out to make sure that does not happen.
Jim Puritz: [05:45]Well, thank you very much Paige. Thank you for coming here today and talking about underinsured motorist coverage.
Paige Pahlke:[05:49]Happy to be here, Jim.
Outro:[05:53]We appreciate you joining us on this episode of When Accidents Happen. To learn more about today's discussion or to tell us your story, visit our website at That's or call 704 335 1500. The insights and views presented in When Accidents Happen are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney, nor does tuning into this podcast constitute an attorney client relationship of any kind. If you're ready for the personal attention you deserve contact Brown Moore & Associates today.