When you are injured in a car accident, filing an insurance claim can provide you with the financial resources you need to recover and move on. Of course, this assumes that the necessary insurance coverage is available.
While South Carolina law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, (i) its requirements differ from those of other states, (ii) the required minimum coverage amounts will be insufficient in many cases, and (iii) not all drivers follow the law. As a result, to make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve, it will be important to work with an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer.
WHAT AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE DOES SOUTH CAROLINA LAW REQUIRE?
By law, South Carolina drivers are required to carry three types of auto insurance coverage. The auto insurance mandates in South Carolina are as follows:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Insurance – Bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance covers accidents in which the insured driver is at fault. When you are injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligence, the negligent driver’s BIL policy will cover your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering up to the driver’s policy limit. South Carolina’s auto insurance statute requires drivers to carry BIL coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but drivers have the option to purchase additional coverage.
- Property Damage (PD) Insurance – Property damage (PD) insurance also covers accidents in which the insured driver is at fault. It provides coverage for repair (or replacement) costs rather than medical expenses and other injury-related losses. As the South Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI) explains, “This not only includes damages to other vehicles but also other property, such as buildings, walls, fences, and equipment.” South Carolina drivers are required to carry PD coverage of at least $25,000 per accident and again can purchase additional coverage.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance – Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance protects you in the event that you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver. UM, insurance provides fault-based coverage similar to bodily injury liability and property damage insurance, and South Carolina law requires drivers to carry coverage equivalent to that required for BIL and PD.
WHAT AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE IS OPTIONAL IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
In addition to the three types of insurance coverage required by South Carolina law, drivers can purchase various additional forms of coverage as well. While you might be thinking, “Why would anyone pay extra for insurance?” there are several good reasons to purchase coverage above and beyond what the law requires. This applies to both (i) purchasing more than the minimum coverage amounts for bodily injury liability, property damage, and uninsured motorist insurance; and (ii) purchasing additional forms of coverage. Two of the main reasons to consider purchasing additional insurance coverage are:
- If you are at fault in an accident and the costs incurred exceed your coverage limits, you could face personal liability for the victims’ damages; and,
- The types of insurance required under South Carolina law do not cover all possible car accident scenarios.
In addition to purchasing coverage above the minimum policy limits for BIL, PD, and UM insurance, in South Carolina, drivers also have the option to purchase:
- Underinsured Motorist Insurance – As the DOI explains, “Underinsured motorist coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage, but pays for your injuries or property damage if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your damages or medical bills.” If you have underinsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your insurer instead of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
- Collision and Comprehensive Insurance – Collision and comprehensive insurance are separate policies that cover the damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. Collision coverage applies in cases involving impacts with cars, trees, guardrails, and other stationary objects. Comprehensive coverage applies in cases involving crime, fires, flooding, and collisions with deer and other animals.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance – Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance pays your medical expenses and covers your loss of income regardless of who is at fault for your injuries. While many states require drivers to carry PIP coverage, South Carolina does not. However, purchasing PIP coverage is still a good idea, as it ensures that you will still have access to coverage even if it is not possible to prove that someone else was at fault in your accident.
HOW DO YOU SEEK INSURANCE COVERAGE AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Regardless of the type(s) of coverage that you have available when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, it is important to handle your insurance claim appropriately. Among other things, this means that you need to file your claim promptly, and you need to make sure that you do what is necessary to secure the full coverage to which you are entitled.
When filing an insurance claim after a car accident, there are two key aspects of South Carolina’s auto insurance laws, of which you should be aware. The first of these is that the insurance companies have a legal obligation to handle your claim in good faith. The insurance companies cannot deny coverage without justification, and they cannot make false representations to convince you to settle for less than you deserve.
The second key aspect of South Carolina’s auto insurance law is that the insurance companies are not required to help you secure coverage. While they are prohibited from engaging in bad faith, they are well within their rights to require you to prove your right to payment. With this in mind, you must take a proactive approach to prove liability and calculating your losses. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney to represent you.
DO YOU HAVE AN INSURANCE CLAIM AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
If you have been involved in a car accident in South Carolina and would like help understanding your right to insurance coverage, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation at Lewis Law Firm LLC. To speak with an auto accident attorney in confidence, (803) 327-1103 or request an appointment online today.