If you do not know about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in South Carolina, it could cost you a lot of money. When you get hurt in an accident due to negligence and that person does not have insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage could help pay for your losses.
Also, if your damages exceed the amount of the other persons’ insurance, your underinsured coverage could help with the additional losses. Finally, uninsured motorist coverage could pay your losses if you get injured in a hit-and-run accident. The insurance industry treats hit-and-run collisions like situations involving uninsured motorists.
South Carolina Minimum Coverage and Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage
South Carolina requires everyone who drives to buy automobile liability and uninsured motorist coverage. The Office of Consumer Services explains that there are three parts to the required liability insurance:
Liability Insurance That Covers Bodily Injury
You must carry at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage could pay things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Intangible losses like pain and suffering
The liability coverage on your insurance policy does not pay any of your losses; it only pays the losses of other people when you cause an accident.
Liability Insurance That Pays for Property Damage
The minimum coverage for property damage per accident is a total of $25,000. Your property damage liability insurance does not pay for damage to your vehicle or property. It only pays if other vehicles and property like buildings or fences get damaged or destroyed because of your negligence.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
You must buy at least the same amount of uninsured and underinsured coverage as the minimum of standard liability coverage. This looks like:
- $25,000 liability coverage per person
- $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage
- $25,000 in property damage per accident (25/50/25)
This coverage can pay your losses if the other driver causes the accident and does not have any insurance or has insufficient insurance. Some wonder if underinsured and uninsured coverage are different. However, the name refers to one coverage that helps in two situations.
Do I Have to Retain Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
According to the South Carolina Department of Insurance, our state does not require vehicle owners to purchase underinsured motorist coverage. You only have this optional protection if you purchased the minimum liability coverage.
S.C. Code Section 38-77-160 says that your automobile insurance carrier must offer, at your option, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage up to the limits of your actual liability coverage. If you carry liability insurance that is higher than the state minimum required coverage, your insurer has to allow you to buy uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in that amount as well.
How South Carolina Underinsured Motorist Coverage Works
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is secondary. You must first make a claim against the at-fault driver’s automobile liability insurance for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
You should immediately notify your insurance carrier of the accident. You will want to inform them that:
- You got injured.
- You will be seeking compensation under your policy if the other driver’s coverage limits do not satisfy the full amount of your damages claim.
An example of how underinsured motorist coverage works:
Let’s say that your damages total $50,000 for bodily injury and $40,000 in property damage and that you bought optional underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of 25/50/25.
- If the at-fault driver carried only minimum coverage, that automobile liability policy will only pay $25,000 of your bodily injury claim and $25,000 of your property damage.
- You would need to use your uninsured motorist coverage to pay the remaining $25,000 of your bodily injury claim and $15,000 of your property damage.
The amount of actual coverage in a particular accident could vary. The at-fault driver might carry higher liability limits than the minimum, and you might purchase underinsured coverage with higher limits than 25/50/25.
An Overview of Uninsured Motorist Coverage in South Carolina
Another driver could cause a collision and not have the minimum coverage required by South Carolina law. If this occurs, your automobile policy could pay your losses up to the limits of your uninsured motorist coverage.
Also, if the at-fault driver illegally flees the accident scene, you could not turn to another driver present at the scene for coverage. For this reason, insurers treat hit-and-run accidents the same as drivers without insurance.
You are allowed to buy more than the minimum required uninsured motorist coverage, according to S.C. Code Section 38-77-140. Considering how much your losses could be for even moderate injuries, $25,000 could easily be inadequate to cover your bodily injury damages. Also, if your car gets totaled, it could cost more than $25,000 to replace your vehicle.
The Pitfall of Not Understanding Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Your insurance agent might not explain to you after an accident that your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage could pay for some of your losses. If you do not know your rights to compensation under your own policy, you might end up paying those losses out of your own pocket.
If you work with a car accident lawyer on your accident injury claim, your lawyer can protect your rights. They can also gather evidence that supports your claim, negotiate with the other party, and represent you in court, if necessary.
George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers Is Ready to Take on Your Case
You can call George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers today at (888) 612-7001 for a free consultation. We want to know how your accident has affected you. You could recover damages that pay for your accident-related losses.