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10 Frequently Asked Questions About NC Auto Insurance

Workers' Comp Attorney Ben CochranQ: Is North Carolina a fault state when it comes to car insurance claims? 

Yes. North Carolina law allows insurance companies to use fault for a car accident to deny payment of claims. Some states require vehicle owners to have no-fault auto insurance coverage, in which insurers must pay for damages after a car accident regardless of fault.

But North Carolina has one of the country’s strictest contributory negligence laws. It bars an accident victim from collecting damages if they are determined to be even partially at fault for a car accident.

If the other driver’s insurance company disputes liability after a serious car accident or claims you are partly at fault, you should speak with a personal injury attorney about your legal rights. A personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate a suitable settlement for you. If the responsible insurer refuses to settle, a lawyer can ask a court to order the insurance company to pay for your medical bills and other losses and award appropriate payment.

Q: Do I need to buy uninsured motorist coverage in North Carolina?

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is required in North Carolina. It is usually bundled with liability coverage, which is also required by law, so there is no separate purchase. UM coverage is intended to provide payments if you are in an accident caused by a driver who does not have liability insurance. This policy also covers in hit-and-run accidents. The UM policy sold with liability insurance will typically have coverage equal to liability coverage, which at a minimum must provide $30,000 bodily injury coverage for each person, $60,000 total bodily injury for all persons in an accident and $25,000 for property damage.=

Q: Do I need to buy underinsured motorist coverage in North Carolina?

There is no legal requirement in North Carolina to maintain underinsured motorist coverage, but it can prove to be valuable protection. Underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage is meant to provide bodily injury protection when an accident results in personal injury to the policyholder that costs more than the limits of the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.

Many drivers in North Carolina opt for the lowest premiums available by selecting minimum amounts of insurance coverage. North Carolina requires liability insurance that provides at least $30,000 bodily injury coverage for each person, $60,000 total bodily injury for all persons in an accident and $25,000 for property damage. Your medical bills after a serious accident may quickly exceed the minimum coverage limits.

Your UIM coverage would make up the difference between the other driver’s liability limits for bodily injury and your UIM policy’s limits.

Q: If I’m traveling to other states, will my policy protect me and meet the requirements of liability coverage outside of North Carolina?

Yes, your policy automatically satisfies the requirements of other states while traveling outside of North Carolina. This is known as a “broadening clause,” which all reputable insurance companies include in liability policies. The broadening clause will also extend your coverage if you get into an accident in a no-fault state, where drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) to pay for injuries they suffer in an accident regardless of who is at fault.

Q: Does my auto insurance policy also provide me with adequate coverage in Mexico and/or Canada?

Your policy will NOT provide coverage for you in Mexico. You can buy a Mexican liability policy before you cross the border. Some insurance companies in states that border Mexico, such as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, offer these policies. However, all United States-based auto insurance carriers will cover your vehicle while you are in Canada. You should contact your insurance provider before your trip to obtain a “Motor Vehicle Liability Card / Canada Inter-province” insurance card. Without it, you may be fined if a Canadian police officer requests your proof of insurance. Before embarking on international travel, it is always safer to check with the appropriate authorities because regulations and requirements may change without broad notice in the United States.

Q: I just bought a new car. Is it automatically insured and covered under my current policy?

You must provide your insurer with proper notification for automatic coverage to be applied. You must notify your insurance provider within thirty (30) days of the purchase or acquisition of a new vehicle. The broadest coverage included within your policy for any listed vehicle will apply to any additional automobile. If you fail to notify your insurance provider within the 30-day period, the new vehicle will not be covered.

Q: I’m in the military and currently stationed in North Carolina. Will my policy still cover me if I’m relocated and stationed in another state?

Your policy will cover you for the length of the coverage period while you are relocated to another state. When your coverage period ends and it’s time to renew your policy, your provider, as well as the state in which you are stationed, may require you to purchase a policy in your new state of residence.

Q: Why do other drivers in my household who have bad driving records cause me trouble getting auto insurance?

Insurance companies consider drivers with bad records to be increased risks. In North Carolina, liability coverage applies to all family members, which is taken to mean everyone residing in the policyholder’s household. Because your policy covers any family member (as well as anyone driving your insured vehicle with your permission) their bad driving records are factored into the risk calculations during your insurance provider’s underwriting process.

Q: How long does it take for my claim to be settled?

An insurance company has thirty (30) days to pay the claim as submitted, offer an alternative amount as a settlement, deny the claim or advise you in writing that your claim is still under investigation. Once a claim is settled, loss and claim payments should be delivered within ten (10) business days.

Q: If my claim is denied, will I receive an explanation as to why?

The law requires insurance companies to provide you with written explanation as to why your claim was denied. It should cite language in your auto insurance policy and/or any law(s) that may be applicable to the company’s denial of your claim.

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