Cindy Speaker: Good afternoon and welcome to our show today. My name is Cindy Speaker and I have with me as my guest, attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Attorneys at Law.
David Daggett: Hello, Cindy.
Cindy Speaker: Always good to have you.
David Daggett: Thank you, Cindy. Great to be with you today.
Cindy Speaker: Great to be with you. Well, we’re going to talk about car insurance today and I think you’re gonna give us some recommendations because people don’t always know what coverages to choose.
David Daggett: Very, very exciting subject. It’s kind of like your windshield wipers. You never know it’s time to change them until it starts raining. So what I like to tell people to do is check your windshield wipers in advance, so that when you have snowstorm or a rainstorm, you’re still safe and can see well.
Cindy Speaker: That’s great advice.
David Daggett: The same thing applies to your auto insurance, is you need to check your auto insurance before it rains or snows to make sure you’re covered in the event a bad thing happens. So, here is the problem in North Carolina and most states also have this. Some are lower and some are higher but the law imposes minimum insurance coverage that you have to have. Minimum insurance coverage in North Carolina is called 30/60, which means it’s $30,000 per individual, $60,000 total per accident, no matter how many people are involved.
Now here’s where the real catch is. If you go into an insurance agent and say, “I need insurance coverage and just give me full coverage and I’m fine,” full coverage is a complete misnomer. It means nothing. So you don’t know what you’re going to get when you say give me “full coverage.” Unfortunately, estimates are 70% or more people on the road only have that 30/60 coverage. So, if I’m at fault in a wreck, I’m only covered up to $30,000. If I hurt somebody in a wreck, my insurance will only pay them up to $30,000 and as we all know, if you go to the emergency room, get run through some tests, that’s worth anything, you can eat up that $30,000 very, very quickly, which means you’re now not protected beyond that and a real misnomer about personal injury attorneys and people don’t understand this, is because 70% of people have that minimum coverage, that means that 70% of people that are in terribly bad accidents, virtually have no recourse. They have no place to go.
It’s really a tough situation that we have in our society and just like when a rainstorm sneaks up and your wipers aren’t any good, when that bad accident happens, it’s a tough situation for people.
Cindy Speaker: So what do you recommend?
David Daggett: So here’s what I recommend. I recommend that you have at least 100/300 coverage. That’s $100,000 per individual up to $300,000 total per accident. Now what happens is, is that the more insurance you get, it gets incrementally cheaper. So the 100/300 isn’t three and a third times more expense than the 30/60. It gets incrementally cheaper as you go along.
The other thing, and this is where I really believe in local insurance agents. I’m not knocking online. I’m not knocking anything else but I really believe in local insurance agents. Because now you can go online, you search for your insurance coverage, you find the cheapest thing there is, well that computer that spits out the answer has no idea what my family situation is, what my financial, those sort of things on coverage.
Your local insurance agent, who’s in the office building down the street or down the road, you can go in and sit with them and they can help you figure out what is best for you. So I recommend you either have a minimum of 100/300 coverage or whatever your net worth is, you should have that much coverage. That way you’re protected.
That’s what I recommend and if bad things happen, you’ll be happy you have that sort of insurance coverage.
Cindy Speaker: That makes…go ahead.
David Daggett: No, I’m sorry.
Cindy Speaker: I was going to ask you, what about uninsured drivers? How do you compensate for that?
David Daggett: Are you reading my mind? That’s where I was going to go. We also have, a high percentage of uninsured drivers out on the road. Uninsured mean drivers that don’t have any insurance coverage at all but we also what’s called underinsured drivers and that’s the situation we were talking about. That other driver just has $30,000 in coverage. They hit you and break your leg. You have $50,000 in medical expenses, you’re out of work for an extended period of time, your claim is obviously worth more than that $30,000 of coverage.
Then you have underinsured coverage. So underinsured coverage picks up when somebody else has too low of coverage. Uninsured coverage picks up if they don’t have any coverage. There’s far more uninsured drivers out there on the road than you would ever imagine. So those are important coverages to have.
So if you get that 100/300 coverage that we talked about, you automatically get 100/300 of uninsured and underinsured coverage to go with that unless you sign a waiver declining it. Don’t sign that waiver. Do not sign that waiver. In North Carolina, you can get the underinsured coverage and the uninsured coverage up to a million dollars in coverage.
The real truth is it doesn’t cost all that much more to get that additional coverage and particularly if you have a family with kids and those sort of things, if you get laid up after an accident and you’re out of your job for awhile, it can run up really, really, quickly.
Cindy Speaker: It sure can.
David Daggett: So people are gonna say, “What about health insurance?” And this is where these claims get really, really complicated because there’s inner workings between all your different types of insurance. Lots of health insurance has to be repaid from car insurance. If there’s a liability claim, a lot of insurance policies these days have high deductibles. It gets very, very complicated.
In fact one of the law partners in our firm, Julie Bell, she’s the foremost expert in the state of North Carolina, in my opinion, on the interaction between health insurance, whether that’s through your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, military; they all have different liens and reimbursement policies if you collect from auto insurance. So, it’s complicated.
Cindy Speaker: Now David, what kicks in first? Does the auto insurance kick in first? Does your health insurance kick in first in terms of your medical?
David Daggett: Well, there’s one more there, so that I can complicate it more. Many people have what’s called medical payments coverage on their auto policy and that is like having health insurance on your car. By saying that, that’s not fault based coverage. It doesn’t make any difference who’s at fault. Lots of times you see medical payment coverage in $1,000, sometimes it’s higher, $5,000 or $10,000, but that’s regardless of fault.
The other interesting thing about all of this, you’re gonna probably shoot me later. I’m getting way too complicated.
Cindy Speaker: No, this is great.
David Daggett: But those coverages also cover you if you’re a pedestrian and get hit by a car. It covers you if you’re a runner, a jogger, and you’re out and get hit by a car. It covers you if you’re riding a bicycle and you’re out and you get hit by a car. So, if you’re an active individual, even more reason to have good auto insurance coverage, ’cause it covers you in different ways that most people just don’t realize. And again, that’s where you may want to consult with an attorney because those things get extremely complicated to pursue.
Cindy Speaker: Now, on that med pay coverage, how much do you recommend of that?
David Daggett: Well, it typically, five, $10,000 dollars, but what you want to look at is, and this is again, where I say get an agent down the street or something who can look at the full picture because now what you have is you have higher deducible health insurance policies. We didn’t have that in the old days, but that’s pretty standard now. That you could have 5,000, 7,500 or 10,000 for a family as a deductible for your health insurance coverage. So that medical payments coverage, you might be filling in for your deductible before your health insurance kicks in while you’re waiting for the long process of the auto coverage to take care of things.
Again, it’s a complicated situation and the way all those parts interweave can really be unique and specific to an individual situation and that’s why I always advise getting the best advice you can, as early as you can.
Cindy Speaker: That makes sense. It really does. Now, David, one more thing. What about calling the insurance company. I’ve always heard you should call them within 24 hours. Is that true or do you call an attorney first?
David Daggett: Well, you have an obligation under your insurance policy to report a claim to your insurance company. What I always, always recommend is there’s nothing wrong with reporting the claim. Do not get into the specific facts or what other insurances apply, because remember when they’re adjusting the claims, what they’re lookin’ for is how can we pay out as little as possible.
They’re a business trying to make a profit. They’re not lookin’ to pay out money. They’re lookin’ to keep money. I recommend that you can give the basic information to report the claim but do not let them record you in any sort of way and do not go into specific facts until you speak with an attorney.
An example of that is North Carolina is one of four or five states left that has a law called Contributor Negligence. And what that means is, if you’re even one percent at fault, even if the other side is 99% at fault, you under North Carolina law, are not entitled to a penny, for all you’ve been through.
Savvy and experienced insurance adjusters, what they’ll try to get you to do, is admit something that can add up to that one percent at fault and just that one percent can completely bar your claim. That’s why you don’t want to go into specifics with the insurance company.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. This is really valuable advice.
David Daggett: It’s complicated stuff. Everybody has auto insurance, or they’re supposed to and you think it’s easy. You just go down, get a policy, and they take care of it if something bad goes wrong. It’s just not that simple when a bad thing happens.
Cindy Speaker: David, if someone wants to reach out to you, your firm, what’s the best way to do that?
David Daggett: Well, you can contact us all sorts of different ways. We just handled quite a number of inquiries this morning and one in the middle of the night that came through our Facebook page. You can go to our website, www.daggettshulerlaw.com or call us at 336-724-1234. We’re all over the internet and our team is terrific at responding to people in a very timely manner.
Cindy Speaker: Yes, you are. I know that about you, for sure.
Well, David, thanks for being with us today.
David Daggett: Yep. Remember, check those windshield wipers before it starts raining.
Cindy Speaker: For those of you who are watching, live or by replay, you can leave your questions or comments right on this page and David will get back to you. He’s really good about that.
David Daggett: Absolutely. Thank you.
Cindy Speaker: Thanks everybody. Have a great day.