CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The next time you're stuck in traffic, pick out seven cars around you and guess which driver is completely uninsured. As traffic starts moving again, you'll want to stay as far away from that car as possible, and of course, hope you guessed right.
About 14 percent of drivers nationwide (roughly one in seven) are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council (IRC). That means that of nearly 5.5 million car accidents in 2009, nearly 770,000 involved an uninsured driver. This number typically improves as unemployment rates decrease, but regardless of the odds of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver, it's not a gamble you want to take.
"The best way to protect yourself financially from other drivers and your own mistakes is to make sure you have enough auto insurance coverage," said Dre Fleury, a North Carolina attorney for Crumley Roberts, specializing in injuries incurred in automobile accidents. "The minimum required coverage is definitely not enough, and ideally, you want to have more than enough."
Fleury is a personal injury practice group leader for Crumley Roberts', one of the largest personal injury law firms in the Carolinas. The firm represents the victims of more than 3,000 auto accidents each year.
"I've seen the physical, emotional and financial devastation serious auto accidents can cause," said Fleury. "You can't always avoid an auto accident, but you can protect yourself financially, and you may find that for just a few extra dollars per month you could quadruple your coverage."
Fleury said there is no one-size-fits-all solution for when enough is enough. Many factors such as age, driving record, where you live, family size and much more can affect your insurance costs and coverage needs.
"Policies can be very detailed and highly personalized, but the key areas you want to review are liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage," said Fleury. "Medical payments coverage or MedPay is also a great thing to have in your policy, because it basically gives you instant cash following an accident."
MedPay coverage is optional but extremely affordable – as little as $20 per year for up to $10,000 in coverage. Liability coverage is required in North Carolina to ensure you can cover someone else's injuries and damages if you're at fault. In 2009, the state also started requiring matching levels of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) to ensure that you also protect yourself.
Just having the North Carolina required minimum of $30,000 bodily injury liability is a big gamble, according to Fleury. The most common injuries in auto accidents are neck, head, brain and back injuries, and a broken back with surgery and related expenses could easily top $150,000.
"It's not just uninsured or underinsured drivers who pose a risk," said Fleury. "If you're at fault in an accident, not having enough liability coverage could wipe you out financially, and the person you injure can even come after your home, assets and more."
The state's $25,000 minimum for property damage liability is also not enough, said Fleury, especially if you total someone's $80,000 Porsche or Mercedes.
"If you have an older car and no loan, one coverage area you actually may be able to decrease is collision and comprehensive, which can represent 30-40 percent of your total premium cost," said Fleury. "But I would strongly suggest using any savings to boost your liability, uninsured motorist and medical payments coverage."
Fleury said it's very important to talk with your insurance advisor about your coverage limits, and he also offered to provide anyone interested with a free policy review. He said drivers can scan and email their declarations page to him at [email protected] or mail it to: Crumley Roberts, Attn: Auto Insurance Review, 1051 East Morehead St, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC, 28204.
Founded in 1989, Crumley Roberts, LLP, represents individuals with personal injury, workers' compensation and Social Security disability claims. The firm operates from 14 offices in North Carolina and South Carolina. To learn more about the firm, or its community relations activities, visit www.crumleyroberts.com or stay connected on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
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SOURCE Crumley Roberts, LLP