You may be wondering why a car accident lawyer who is not an insurance agent is telling you what types of insurance you need. The answer is simple: when our clients get hurt by at-fault drivers, the money to pay their medical bills, to replace their lost wages, and to compensate them for their injuries comes from auto insurance. I write this because many of our clients are shocked by three things we don’t want to happen to you:
1.Often, at-fault drivers don’t have enough insurance to fully cover the victim’s injuries.
2.There is a type of insurance coverage, called “underinsurance,” [or "UIM"], that everyone can get on their own policy to protect them from being stuck when a negligent driver can’t pay.
3.“Full coverage” policies do not necessarily include underinsurance.
In all our years as car wreck attorneys in Spartanburg and beyond, countless clients have told us, “I’ve got UIM because my agent gave me full coverage!” Then we find out they have absolutely no underinsurance to protect them.
Moral of the story: we still don’t know what “full coverage” is, but we do know it often doesn’t include the underinsurance our clients need most.
Here are the types of auto insurance coverage you need to be sure are on your policy:
This is the coverage that protects you when you cause an accident. South Carolina law requires a minimum of $25,000. Get as much as you can possibly afford. There are two reasons for this. First, a seriously injured victim can go after your personal assets if you don’t have enough liability coverage. While this is very rare, you can definitely limit your exposure to this by getting as much liability coverage as possible. Second, the amounts of extra protection you can get for yourself—underinsurance and uninsured motorist coverage, described below—cannot be any higher than your liability insurance.
This is the insurance that helps cover you when an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough. For example, suppose you are injured in a traffic accident and your medical bills exceed $50,000. If the at-fault driver carries only the minimum $25,000 in liability coverage, you could get stuck paying the balance out of your own pocket! UIM helps cover those bills and compensate you for your injuries, instead of you worrying so much about financial ruin from unpaid medical bills.
UIM also offers an added benefit if you have multiple cars with UIM. The benefit is called “stacking.” In certain situations, it allows you to use up all the coverage on each car with UIM until all the insurance is paid or until you are fully compensated for your injuries. The law of stacking and UIM can be extremely complex, so if you’re involved in a car accident where you might need UIM, you should meet with an experienced car crash lawyer who can help maximize the coverage available to you.
This—sometimes called “uninsurance” or "UM"—is also required by South Carolina law. This coverage protects you when you get hurt by an at-fault driver with no insurance, or if you are the victim of a hit-and-run. Like UIM, it can be stacked in certain situations. Sometimes uninsured coverage cases can also involve underinsurance. If you need uninsured motorist coverage as part of your car accident case, you should consult with an experienced car crash lawyer who can help you maximize this coverage.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or MedPay
This coverage is usually available in small amounts (between one thousand dollars and ten thousand dollars) to help pay medical bills from a crash. To get benefits, you basically fill out a claim form to prove the bills are related to a crash, send a copy of a medical bill to your insurance company, and they send you a check.
Don’t think full coverage is enough. Check your policy and call your agent. If you have these coverages, consider getting more. If you don’t, you should get them now, because after the crash, it’s too late.
This is a public service announcement from Holland & Usry, where we hope you never need this insurance, but are here for you if you do. If you have any other questions, check out some of the articles on our site like the ones listed below. You can also check out our free report on South Carolina car crash cases. We are available by email or live chat, and you can always call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.