You have likely heard of “uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage,” either when you initially took out auto insurance, or when you renew your auto insurance policy. Most people wonder whether or not this coverage is even necessary, especially when state law mandates auto insurance from drivers. (Unless, that is, the driver resides in New Hampshire where auto insurance is not required by law). South Carolina law requires a driver to purchase uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000, although drivers are given the option to purchase underinsured motorist coverage.
And while legally true that underinsured motorist coverage is not necessary, in practical terms it may be a financial lifesaver if you or someone you know is involved in a collision with someone who has too little insurance to cover your damages. The probability of such a scenario is not so far fetched; indeed, the Insurance Research Council has estimated that approximately one in 8 people in the United States is driving on our nation’s roads without even basic coverage.
Furthermore, drivers should consider the benefits of purchasing additional uninsured motorist coverage beyond the initial $25,000. To be sure, while the required coverage of $25,000 can prove beneficial in an accident with an uninsured driver, many wrecks lead to damages that far exceed this amount.
The consequences of being involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver can be shocking. For example, if the uninsured driver is at fault for the collision and you do not have additional uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, your most likely choice is to seek damages in court. Even if you win your case, the likelihood that the driver has the funds to cover your expenses are probably slim.
Likewise, while not as bad of a scenario, an at-fault driver who has minimal auto insurance coverage (and, therefore, is underinsured) will likely have a policy whose bare-bones coverage limits do not account for all medical bills incurred by the other driver.
Not all states offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Some states give drivers the option to purchase this, while others require it by law. Moreover, there is no uniformity among the states that do offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. South Carolina requires insurers to give drivers a meaningful offer to purchase this coverage. This means an insurer must educate driver about his or her options as to obtaining the best auto insurance.
There are a total of five different combinations of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which include the two familiar categories of liability: bodily injury and property damage. The versions available include:
Knowing what kind and how much auto insurance coverage you may need – whether state mandated or not – can be confusing. Unfortunately, with so many underinsured or uninsured drivers on American roads, the wrong decision can be quite expensive. If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident with an at-fault driver who does not have the appropriate car insurance coverage (or no coverage at all) and has been injured, contact the knowledgeable legal professionals at The Law Offices of Steven M Krause PA These honest and aggressive attorneys will pursue your case from the initial filing of the claim through the appeals process, if necessary, and seek the most compensation to which you are entitled. Contact the firm today for your initial case evaluation.
Steven Krause is a personal injury, auto accident, and workers’ compensation lawyer who practices in Anderson, SC. He graduated form the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and has been practicing law for 40 years now. Steven Krause believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience here.