By Joseph M. Wilson, Jr., Attorney at Law
If you have been in an auto accident in North Carolina or received a traffic ticket in the state, you may have learned that the points recorded against your driver’s license are different than the points that your auto insurance company counts against you when they look at raising your car insurance rates.
The State of North Carolina assigns 5 points against your license for passing a stopped school bus and 3 points for driving without a valid license. You may be ticketed and fined for traffic offenses. You may even go to jail if the offense involves a misdemeanor or felony. This may include arrests for DWI or vehicular manslaughter, for example. If you are arrested, you should definitely contact a criminal law attorney. If you receive a ticket, you may wish to consult with a North Carolina traffic law attorney to learn your rights before you pay the ticket and accept the points on your license and the possible related insurance rate increase.
North Carolina insurance companies use a different set of points in calculating your auto insurance rates. As an example, insurance companies only charge 4 points for the school bus violation, but 8 points for driving with a revoked or suspended license. The North Carolina Rate Bureau sets the basic rates insurance companies in the state may charge. Surcharges are then allowed based on the number of insurance points accumulated by the driver (points accumulated by other drivers in the household are considered when appropriate). Insurance points take into account all moving violations and any accidents where you were at fault over the prior three years. The severity of the auto accident, including the value of the damages and whether anyone was injured, is considered when assigning points against you. The insurance surcharge table adds 25% to your rates for one point, and continues up a sliding scale, ending at a 400% increase for 12 points. At some point, the insurance carrier may choose to transfer policies of high-risk drivers to the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Reinsurance Facility, a non-profit organization comprised of all insurers doing business in North Carolina. The Reinsurance Facility provides coverage to these drivers in the state at a surcharge.
Unfortunately, many drivers who see such steep rate increases choose to drive without insurance coverage. If you have been injured in an auto accident where the at-fault driver was not insured, you may need to file a claim against your own insurance under your uninsured motorist policy or related coverage. You may also wish to speak with a Raleigh Durham auto accident attorney to learn your rights.