In South Carolina, you are required to have uninsured motorist coverage (UM) on your vehicle, but not underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).
What are the benefits of UM and UIM coverage, and why should you get the UIM coverage, even if it is not required?
Will insurance pay if the accident is your fault? What if the accident was someone else’s fault but they do not have insurance to cover your damages?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage Protects You
Both types of insurance coverage protect you when you are hit by a negligent driver that does not have auto insurance or who does not have enough auto insurance to cover the damage that they caused to you…
What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance?
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Uninsured motorist coverage for property damage will pay for damage to your vehicle, and uninsured motorist coverage for personal injury covers other categories of damages like medical costs, hospital stays, lost wages, or other expenses that the uninsured negligent driver would have been liable for.
The good news is SC requires you to have uninsured motorist coverage (UM), so, to some extent, you should be covered.
UM insurance covers situations where:
- You are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance;
- You are in an accident with a driver who does not carry the minimum amount of insurance that SC requires;
- You are in an accident with a hit-and-run driver; or
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to pay your claim.
What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance?
What if the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance?
UIM coverage is not required under SC law, but it can be a lifesaver if you are in an auto accident.
The at-fault driver’s insurance should cover your damages up to the limits of their policy. If that’s not enough to cover your costs, you will have to pay the rest out of your pocket – unless you have UIM.
When the at-fault driver has insurance, but their policy limits are too low to cover your damages, your UIM coverage will pay for the difference up to your policy limits.
What happens if you are in an auto accident and suffer severe, long-term injuries because of the other driver’s negligence, but their insurance policy only covers the minimum amount required by SC law?
If you do not have UIM coverage that is enough to cover the costs, you are out of luck… buy UIM coverage – if you don’t have it already, you can add it to your auto insurance policy.
Why Do I Need Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
South Carolina, like most states, has passed laws that require insurance coverage. Despite this, many people do not follow the law and they will continue driving after their insurance has lapsed. The drivers who do follow the law and carry insurance will often purchase only the minimum coverage required which may not be enough to cover your injuries.
Protect yourself and your loved ones by thinking ahead and purchasing enough UM and UIM coverage to pay for unforeseen accidents.
Why Do We Have Mandatory Insurance in SC?
If you hurt another driver, their initial trip to the emergency room alone could cost $30,000 or more. Add a few days in the hospital, and there’s another 30 grand.
There could be months or even years of medical treatments. A jury could decide you owe them more money for pain and suffering. You may be ordered to pay their lost wages if they can’t work. And, of course, you’re going to be liable to repair or replace their car.
This might sound terrible, but it’s nothing compared to what the other driver is going through.
Let’s switch places with the other driver – they were at fault, and you are the one in the emergency room, out of work, and in need of physical therapy and surgery. Unless you are among the wealthiest Americans, you can’t afford it – not even close.
So, you file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, and the jury awards you significant damages. But you’ll never see a penny of it and you may be financially ruined. That verdict the jury gave to you is nothing more than a piece of paper if you can’t collect.
Insurers Don’t Make It Easy, But You Can Get the Money You Deserve
Insurance companies do have the money – lots of it, and it came from our pockets.
That’s the whole point of auto insurance – we all pay our premiums, even when we haven’t had an accident in years. When we do have an accident – and statistically speaking, we will all be involved in at least one car accident – the insurance companies are flush with cash to pay for medical care, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
What’s left over is profit for the insurance companies – they are in the business of making money, and they will fight to keep the costs of claims down. This is why, in most auto accident cases, you need your SC auto accident attorney to help take back the money that they now owe you.
What If I Caused the Car Accident?
Without insurance, an accident that’s your fault could leave you having to pay for auto repairs or the cost of new vehicles, as well as the costs of potentially exorbitant, long-term medical care for yourself and anyone else injured in the accident.
Your policy also protects you from having to pay legal bills – your auto insurance company is obligated to provide a defense attorney to represent you if someone who was injured in the accident files a personal injury lawsuit against you.
When you notify your insurer that you’ve been in an accident, they will investigate and determine who they think is at fault, defend the claim, and pay the settlement or verdict up to your policy limits.
What If the Accident Wasn’t My Fault?
If you get hurt in an auto accident, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is the primary source for damages.
But, don’t think they are going to rush in and hand you a pile of money for your troubles. An adjuster for the at-fault driver’s insurance company may call you soon after the accident, and they will probably be very nice. Don’t be fooled – their job is to find a way to reject your claim or to pay as little as possible.
Whether they deny the claim outright or make a less-than-adequate settlement offer, you will likely need to negotiate, and the adjuster has a lot of experience with high-stakes negotiations. You will also need to have all your evidence to prove liability and the amount of damages – most importantly, you will need to know what damages you are entitled to and can recover.
The insurance adjuster is not going to tell you this information or help you to collect full and fair compensation.
Your Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team will investigate your car crash, help you to determine who is responsible, and find all possible sources of recovery to get maximum compensation for you whenever possible.