Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in South Carolina
We all hope never to be in a car accident, but the reality is that these incidents happen daily. While most drivers have insurance to cover their liabilities, you might find yourself in an unfortunate situation where the at-fault driver is either uninsured or underinsured. In South Carolina, understanding the nuances of Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage can be a game-changer in such scenarios.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage: The Basics
Uninsured Motorist coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver lacks any insurance to cover the damages they’ve caused. In South Carolina, UM coverage is mandatory for all auto insurance policies.
What UM Covers
- Medical Bills: The cost of medical treatment and hospital stays.
- Property Damage: Costs for repairing or replacing your vehicle.
- Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages may also be included.
- Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage: The What and Why
In contrast, Underinsured Motorist coverage is not mandatory but highly advisable. UIM kicks in when the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your total costs.
The Need for UIM
South Carolina requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage. In a serious accident, these limits can be quickly exhausted, making UIM a smart choice for additional protection.
How to Use UM and UIM
If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to proceed:
1. Report the Accident
Notify the police and your insurance company immediately after the accident, even if the at-fault driver begs you not to.
2. Document the Scene
Collect information, including photographs, witness testimonies, and police reports. These may serve as valuable evidence if you need to make a claim.
3. File a Claim
Submit a claim to your own insurance company for UM or UIM benefits. Provide all the necessary documents and cooperate fully during the investigation.
4. Legal Consultation
It might be beneficial to consult a personal injury attorney familiar with South Carolina laws to ensure that you’re adequately compensated, especially if your damages are significant.
South Carolina-specific Considerations
One unique aspect of South Carolina law is the option to “stack” multiple UM or UIM policies. This can be particularly useful if you own several insured vehicles or if you’re covered under more than one policy.
Keep an eye on the statute of limitations. In South Carolina, you generally have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury.
Being well-versed in the specifics of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage in South Carolina can save you from financial hardship and uncertainty. While this post provides an essential overview, consulting a legal professional for advice tailored to your unique circumstances is always a wise course of action.
Understanding the framework of UM and UIM can give you the peace of mind to navigate post-accident complexities more confidently. Make sure you’re adequately covered and know your rights and options under South Carolina law.