I’ve written before about how your own auto policy can prevent you from being left holding the bag after getting hit in South Carolina by a driver who flees the scene, never to be found, or a driver with no insurance. If you're a hit-and-run victim, South Carolina law can impose some harsh requirements to preserve your rights, so be sure to protect yourself.
And now I get to tell you it gets even better, if you’re eligible. South Carolina law allows certain victims to “stack” their uninsured motorist policies (also called UM), to get more coverage if they need it. “Stacking” means you can use coverage from policies on other vehicles, including motorcycles, until you’re fully compensated or use up all your coverage.
Let’s talk about the good news first—how stacking can help.
The Power of Stacking
Here’s how stacking can help make all the difference if you’re seriously hurt or lose a loved one to a hit-and-run or uninsured driver.
Picture this: you and your spouse own four vehicles. Each has UM coverage of $100,000. That means you’ve got access to up to $400,000 in UM [four vehicles x $100,000 UM on each = $400,000].
NOTE: it doesn't matter what type of vehicle it is, it just needs to have UM. That's important for motorcycle accident victims who need UM, but fear they're limited to motorcycle policies. You're not limited to the same type vehicle as the one in the acident.
Be wise. Ready to check your policy and check your agent yet? You should be—adding coverage after the crash is too late.
Now the bad news. No matter how much coverage you have, there’s still the pesky “eligibility” factor. You’ve gotta meet some legal requirements. Let me explain.
Legal Requirements to Stack
The rules are complex and confusing. That’s why you need an experienced auto accident attorney. Generally, to qualify for stacking, you’ve got to meet three requirements:
1.The vehicle involved in the crash must have a valid UM policy on it.
2.You’ve got to have the right relationship with the insurance policy. You must be the policy holder, or married to the policy holder, or a relative living with the policy holder.
3.There must be other vehicles with UM in your household.
Then there’s the shocker: When you make a UM claim, your own insurance company fights against you! Don’t think for a second they’ll be kind and easy. Remember they profit at shortchanging people on claims, even their own policyholders.
Three Major Reasons You Need a Skilled Attorney Here
- This is your only shot at doing it right. If you overlook coverage or settle cheaply, there is no appeal.
- The legalities are complex. The amount of coverage is often the most important factor in your case. The legal rules determining it are complicated, even for attorneys. This requires a careful review from a trained eye to prevent losing financial assistance you may need desperately.
- You’re only an amateur—and a wounded one at that. The insurance company has its professional adjuster, trained to minimize settlements for the likes of you. You need a professional on your side just to even the odds.
And even if you’re pretty sure you know the coverage amount, you’ve still got to convince the insurance company of your case value, which might include future care. You might even have to get ready for a court proceeding if the case involves death or a child.
Be wise. Ask for help from an accident injury lawyer you trust. We can answer your questions by email, or you can always download our free report that answers typical questions we get in car crash cases.