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South Carolina
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How Does Car Insurance Work in South Carolina?

Understanding the specific insurance laws in each state can be complicated and confusing to drivers, both old and new. If you miss key components of that state’s specific laws, you can risk serious costs when you are in an accident or even miss out on the chance to file for a claim after you’ve experienced bodily harm or had property damage in an accident.

HawkLaw, P.A. understands the ins and outs of South Carolina insurance laws and will fight for you to get the most out of a claim or settlement. Our team is here to help you. Contact us now or call 888.HAWK.LAW for support.

Liability Coverage

South Carolina is an at-fault state. That is an important factor to keep in mind if you have been in an accident. In an at-fault state, the driver that causes the car accident is responsible for the damages caused to other parties. That means that if someone causes damage to your vehicle, that typically means their insurance covers the costs you’ve incurred. South Carolina residents are expected to prove they weren’t at fault and that the other driver was careless.

As a result of this, South Carolina drivers are required to maintain liability insurance. Liability coverage provides protection for other drivers should the covered driver cause damage to their vehicle. In the state of South Carolina, a driver must carry:

  •     $25,000 per accident in property damage
  •     $$25,00 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage

If you are injured by a person that has this coverage, the insurance company is likely to cover your claim if you can prove the driver caused the damage you have and the amount of damage you have.

Usually, this means you’ll need to talk to a car accident attorney about your claim. They can make sure you have the evidence you need for your claim, especially if the insurance company refuses to settle with you or even tries to pin part of the blame on you.

Other Types of Coverage

There are other types of auto insurance that you should also know about, though these are not required under the law in most cases. Here is a look at some other types of coverage that a driver can get that go above the minimum mandated amount.

Collision Insurance: Collision coverage protects a driver from incidents involving the vehicle striking another driver or object that the driver causes. For example, collision insurance may cover the damage to your car if you back up into a tree. However, if your vehicle sustains extensive damage and the repair costs exceed what’s called the threshold of the auto’s actual cash value, your insurer may determine to “total” the car instead of repairing it. When this happens, you will receive the actual cash value minus your deductible. The threshold in South Carolina is 75%.

Comprehensive Insurance: Comprehensive coverage provides specific coverage for non-accident-related incidents that cause damage to your vehicle. The coverage pays out, for example, in the event of fire, flooding, theft, vandalism, or falling objects. This insurance coverage covers broken glass, often occurring when you experience damage to your car’s windshield. There are limitations here. For example, the car insurance coverage does not cover incidents resulting from poor maintenance and upkeep or damage you create to your own car on purpose.

Gap Coverage: Gap coverage helps provide you with financial support in situations where your vehicle loan is worth more than the car. For example, if you just purchased your vehicle, its value is very high. That value drops a few months later because it is now a used car. If you total your car after that point, you may have a significant amount of debt on the loan that is well above the value of the car. Gap coverage helps to provide financial support for that loss.

Medical Payment: Medical payments coverage provides a way to cover the medical bills for you and your passenger in your vehicle if they are hurt in a car accident. This type of insurance covers the cost no matter who caused the accident.

Rental Car Reimbursement: Another type of coverage to consider is rental car reimbursement. If you damage your vehicle in a covered incident, the insurance providers will cover the cost of a rental car while yours is being repaired. There may be stipulations and limitations on what is covered.

What Will Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage Cover in South Carolina?

South Carolina requires individuals to maintain uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This type of insurance covers you if the driver of a vehicle that caused damage to your vehicle does not have insurance coverage. It may also provide coverage if you are hit by a hit-and-run motorist or a driver who does not have enough insurance coverage to meet the damage that you have on your vehicle. Underinsured motorist coverage may apply in this situation.

The minimum liability coverage requirement is just that – the very least that a person needs to meet the state’s laws. Often, this is not enough coverage, and it may be wise to increase the insurance policy coverage limits higher to minimize further risks. Insurance requirements may change over time.

The uninsured motorist property damage coverage in South Carolina covers physical damage to your insured vehicle, which may fall under collision or comprehensive coverage.

Also available in South Carolina is uninsured motorist bodily liability coverage, which provides payments for the following:

  • Medical bills for those injuries occurring as a result of an accident
  • Loss of income
  • Treatment for mental and emotional issues resulting from the accident
  • Funeral costs

What Does Underinsured Motorist Insurance Cover in South Carolina?

Uninsured driver insurance in South Carolina can cover medical costs, lost wages, funeral costs, and the treatment for emotional and mental issues that are a direct result of the accident.

In particular, underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) liability coverage protects you and your passengers if you are in a crash and the at-fault driver of the other motor vehicle does not have high enough insurance coverage limits to cover your full expenses.

While you are not required by law to carry underinsured coverage and will need to sign a waiver containing a disclaimer, the benefits for doing so are numerous.

Can You Stack Your Underinsured (UIM) Coverage?

Once you exhaust your initial auto insurance policy coverage, you can stack the underinsured UIM coverage as long as one of the covered vehicles is involved in the accident.

Stacking is the process of combining the underinsured coverage you have for all your cars or trucks and becoming fully compensated for damages when you suffer serious personal injury in a vehicle accident caused by the other driver’s negligence.

For example, in South Carolina, the state minimum for bodily injury is $25,000. If you have a $25,000 uninsured coverage policy for each of your two vehicles, you can stack that coverage if needed to cover expenses. This stacking provides you with $50,000 plus the amount from the at-fault driver’s policy limits.

Do You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage If You Have Health Insurance?

A common question often involves whether someone in South Carolina needs uninsured driver coverage if they already have health insurance. Not only is it highly recommended to have this coverage in addition to your health insurance, but it is also required. In South Carolina, you must purchase uninsured and liability insurance as a driver.

In addition to uninsured motorist coverage being a legal requirement, it can be highly beneficial to help you meet expenses for not just you but your passengers also.

Health insurance covers only your personal injuries and medical expenses and does not cover other damages such as destruction of property or injury to others.

With uninsured motorist coverage, protection is extended to your passengers and also covers damaged property. Without it, you will need to meet all health insurance deductibles, co-pays, and requirements. Any injured passengers will need to seek help under their own health policies as well. Also, any damages to your vehicle, lost wages, or funeral expenses will be your responsibility.

Consequences of Driving Uninsured

South Carolina car insurance laws are very clear on what is required to maintain a driver’s license in the state. Driving without insurance is dangerous for many reasons. What may happen if you are found to be driving without proof of insurance?

Fines and Jail Time: Depending on what occurs, you may have to pay a fine related to your lack of coverage. Fines may range widely. For a first offense, a driver may pay a fee of $550, a fine of up to $200, and $5 per day for the lapse in required coverage. If it happens more than once, you could have your driver’s license suspended for a set number of months or years, depending on the number of offenses. In addition, there is a maximum jail sentence of 30 days.

Your Coverage Is Limited: In some situations, you may struggle with your own financial responsibility if you are in an accident that someone else causes and do not have coverage. Without uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for those costs in some cases.

Insurance Prices

Insurance premiums are the cost of purchasing insurance. Costs range widely based on the vehicle, the person’s specific risk factors, and many other factors. Even where you live and how much you drive factors into this. Generally, full coverage auto insurance in South Carolina may range from $1300 to $1800 per year. There may be other options that are lower. Keep in mind that additional coverage may add to this. Also, auto insurance rates may also be impacted if you have points on your DMV license due to a poor driving record.

The Insurance Settlement Process

Car insurance companies recognize that you need to use your auto insurance policy to help you when an auto accident occurs. Yet, it is not always that simple. If you are hit by an uninsured driver and suffer significant damage, your South Carolina auto insurance may help you cover those losses up to the policy limits you have. That may mean you do not have enough coverage for the loss.

The process involves the following steps, in most cases.

  • You file a police report to document the incident. The police determine who the fault driver is. In a hit-and-run incident, the police document this as well.
  • You file a claim with an insurance agent. The insurance claim outlines what happened. It typically involves reviewing auto insurance coverage to see what type of protection you have.
  • The insurance adjuster then determines if your coverage covers the accident based on things like who is at fault, the amount and type of physical damage, and policy limits.
  • Your policy then pays you for those losses.

If another driver causes the accident, the insurance company will request an insurance claim from you. The same process follows.

However, under South Carolina law, you must prove that the other driver caused the damages. Additionally, the insurance adjuster is likely to work hard to try to minimize how much you can get for the damages.

If they refuse to settle for a fair amount, or if they deny your claim, your car accident lawyer can help you take your car accident claim to court.

How HawkLaw Can Help

Whether or not you have minimum coverage and a liability policy, insurance companies want to work to reduce what they have to pay to you after an accident. Even if you meet the car insurance requirements, they may look for ways to reduce what is paid out. That is why it is best to work with our team at HawkLaw. We have the industry knowledge and experience to help you through these accidents. We have a record of high settlements and local knowledge to support you through this process of getting help.

Accidents are dangerous and frightening, but having the right team on your side can help protect your right to compensation.

Contact HawkLaw by calling 888.HAWK.LAW or using our contact page today to learn more about how we can help you after a car accident.