The Importance of UIM Insurance in South Carolina
The law in South Carolina requires that any time an automobile insurance policy is sold by an insurance provider, an “underinsured motorist coverage” offer must be presented as well. This underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM, offers protection for you and your passengers if you’re involved in a car crash with a driver who has insurance but doesn’t have enough to cover the costs of your injuries.
It’s strongly recommended that you purchase UIM coverage if you can afford it. Coverage can sometimes be as little as $5 per month.
UIM insurance can help bridge the gap when the at-fault driver has insurance, but their policy limits how much will be paid out to cover your damages and injuries. The standard minimum liability amount in South Carolina is $25,000, so having UIM can protect you and your family if you’re involved in a crash with another driver.
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South Carolina drivers caused the need for UIM
Historically and statistically, South Carolina ranks as having some of the worst drivers in America. As a result, insurance is necessary and was designed to spread the risk of loss over a great many people by sharing the potential losses across a risk pool.
Pursuant to South Carolina Code Ann. § 38-77-140, the state’s minimum limits of liability coverage for bodily injury are $25,000 for any individual, $50,000 total for all individuals in an accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage.
As many of you have witnessed firsthand, an initial trip to the local emergency room can cost upwards of $25,000 Furthermore, with the current car market, most vehicles on the roadway have a value north of $25,000.
So, what does that mean if you’re in a serious collision and need insurance coverage to aid in your recovery?
You’re either out of luck and stuck with the state minimum coverages of liability to resolve your claim, or, if you purchased “underinsured motorist coverage,” you can stack your coverages to the extent you purchased and may come out okay.
UIM is additional optional coverage you purchase that comes into play when you or someone in your car is injured or damaged by an at-fault driver who does not have enough insurance coverage to cover your damages.
This additional coverage can prove paramount in your recovery of damages for bodily injury and property damage. Once the underlying liability coverage is exhausted through a tender, the UIM policy steps up to the plate to cover your additional damages up to the amount you purchased in additional coverage.
How does UIM work?
Let’s use a hypothetical to further explain how UIM works.
Say Joe, a wealthy individual, is driving on Interstate-95 in a Mercedes-Benz and a 20-year-old driver, working 2 jobs to make ends meet but can’t afford better than minimum limits coverage, runs into the back of Joe, breaking his nose and leg.
Joe takes an ambulance to the local ER, undergoes 2 surgeries, and gets saddled with $50,000 in medical debt—not to mention his $50,000 car is totaled beyond repair.
Under this scenario, the 20-year-old’s insurance policy would pay $25,000 toward Joe’s medical bills (leaving Joe $25,000 in the hole) and $25,000 towards his totaled Benz (leaving Joe another $25,000 in the hole).
The at-fault insurance carrier is going to likely tender their coverages for bodily injury and property damage limits, but Joe’s damages are already a combined $50,000 greater than what the at-fault carrier would pay, and the 20-year-old driver has no assets to pursue in litigation.
UIM, purchased under Joe’s policy prior to the wreck, will kick in to cover the additional $25,000 in medical bills and $25,000 in additional property damage.
Under this scenario, Joe has been made whole again by the at-fault driver’s policy and his own personal UIM policy. Had Joe not purchased the additional UIM coverage prior to the wreck, he would have been stuck holding the bag for an additional $25,000 in medical bills and be without his Mercedes. However, because Joe purchased this additional coverage, his medicals are covered, and he can go to the dealership with the $50,000 in insurance money and purchase another car.
Have control over your future with UIM
So why is UIM so important? Now that you’re armed with the knowledge that South Carolina has some of the worst drivers in the country, why would you place your future in the hands of one of these negligent drivers who has state minimum coverage?
Take matters into your own hands to safeguard yourself and your loved ones by purchasing additional UIM coverage to hedge these risks. It is an inexpensive add-on to your existing automobile policy that provides a safety net in your time of need.
The one catch is that you must have purchased the coverage prior to being in an accident. Don’t push your luck and hope that the person who hits you has greater than the state’s minimum limits of coverage.
Maintain more control over your future and purchase additional underinsured motorist coverage. You’ll be glad you did.
Insurance is an invention of the modern age to spread the risk of loss over a great many people by sharing in the potential losses. This was started in the shipping industry centuries ago…
When to contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or truck crash in South Carolina, contact the personal injury attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden to find out about your best options for financial recovery.
Chappell, Smith & Arden has 6 office locations throughout the state, and our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Alken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville and throughout South Carolina.
We always offer free initial consultations, so contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden today.