February 26, 2024

Why I Increased My Family’s Limits of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage


When I started representing individuals who had been injured in car accidents, I was quickly confronted with a sobering reality: many victims who had done nothing wrong could not get the compensation they deserved and needed because the drivers who caused their injuries did not have enough insurance. It didn’t take long for me to decide to increase my own uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as high as I could. The importance of having adequate uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage cannot be overstated. Let me tell you why this matters so much, especially here in North Carolina. 

What Is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage? 

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have any liability insurance at all—this includes hit-and-run accidents where the driver who caused the accident is not known. Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when the other driver’s insurance limits aren’t high enough to cover your damages. Together, they form a safety net, ensuring that you’re not left financially stranded because of an unexpected accident. This is insurance you can buy and pay for as a part of your own car insurance policy.  

In North Carolina an estimated 7.4% of drivers on the road do not have any car insurance. That means for every 100 cars you drive past, 7 of them are completely without coverage. Of those who do have insurance, how many do you think have only the bare minimum required in North Carolina? If I’m sounding like an insurance salesman, its only because these numbers are scary! 

Why I Upped My Coverage 

In a perfect world, the driver who caused the accident would cover all the damages. But, reality isn’t that simple—if the other driver cannot afford to pay for the damages and does not have enough insurance, the burden falls unfairly on the injured person. I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that insufficient coverage can bring. Lost wages, mounting medical bills, and, in some of the worst cases, long-term care expenses add to the burden of having been in a serious accident.  

How North Carolina’s Offset Rule Affects Underinsured Motorist Coverage 

A quirk about North Carolina underinsured motorist policies is that they are offset by whatever coverage the driver who caused the accident may have. If you’re driving through Wilkes County and have a $100,000 underinsured motorist policy and are hit by another driver who has a $100,000 liability insurance policy—you might think you can recover under both policies for $200,000 total. But that is not the case. Your insurance company gets a credit for any payment the liability insurance company makes—meaning that you end up with nothing extra. If, however, you had a $250,000 underinsured motorist policy (and you were seriously injured), then you could recover $100,000 from the liability carrier and another $150,000 from your underinsured motorist policy. This makes it even more crucial to have substantial uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in place. 

If this sounds confusing that’s because it is. If you’ve been in an accident, it’s probably a good idea to call an experienced car accident attorney. The good news is that this law is changing—car insurance policies issued in 2025 and beyond will not include this offset.  

Choosing the Right Coverage for You 

The right amount of coverage depends on your situation and the driving environment in your area. But, the underlying truth remains: investing in higher limits is an investment in your financial well-being and peace of mind. Buying higher limits of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage often involves only a relatively small increase in your monthly premium. For me, that was a no brainer. 


My work with injured clients has shaped my personal approach to insurance coverage. The decision to increase my uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage wasn’t a mere preference; it was an informed choice rooted in the realities of our legal landscape here in North Carolina.  

This information is provided by Harris Legal for general benefit, education, and interest. If you have a specific legal question, you should consult with an attorney.