What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage? And Why You Need It - What Are Underinsured Motorist Coverage & Uninsured Motorist Claims? - Understanding UIM Coverage - Myrtle Beach Car Accident Attorney

What Are Underinsured Motorist Coverage & Uninsured Motorist Claims?

Hit and Run? 843-839-4111

Hit and Run? 843-839-4111

When it comes to car accidents, there are two scenarios that aren’t ideal the first is an underinsured motorist, who does not have liability, or is not carrying enough liability insurance to pay for damages in the event of an accident. The second is an uninsured motorist who simply has no insurance at all. So how does a person protect themselves and their loved ones against these situations? We’ll tackle the underinsured motorist first.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage? And Why You Need It

So you got into a car accident with an insured motorist, but you are worried that the at fault driver’s insurance policy will not be sufficient to pay for the resulting damage from the accident. Don’t fret, there are two types of underinsured motorist coverages, herein called UIM, that allows for the recovery of damages not covered by the at fault driver’s insurance policy. UIM coverage is available when an insured motorist has an accident with an underinsured motor vehicle.

When the at-fault driver is underinsured, this means that the driver has purchased an auto insurance policy that does not provide enough coverage to compensate you for your damages. You will only be able to collect whatever the maximum payout amount is on their policy, and some policies allow for a very small liability coverage as low as $15,000. This is hardly enough to cover property damage in an accident, let alone medical bills. The way to protect yourself in an accident with a person who doesn’t have enough insurance is to have underinsured motorist coverage as part of your insurance policy. If you have UIM coverage, you may be able to collect, from your own insurance company, the amount of your damages that exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. This type of insurance is inexpensive, and we cannot stress enough that it should be part of your insurance coverages.

Much of the time when you are signing an insurance policy, you want it done quickly and a lot of time you are looking for the most inexpensive policy that gives you what you need. UIM coverage is typically an add-on, although insurance agents legally must offer this policy, it is easy to skip by it or decline adding it to your policy. THIS IS A MISTAKE! Underinsured motorist coverage is the best way to protect yourself in the event of an accident and to get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. It is worth the extra bit of time it takes, and the little bit added to your monthly policy, for this peace of mind. The best thing you can do is get UIM insurance.

What Are the Types of Underinsured Motorist Coverage You Can Carry in South Carolina?

The first kind of UIM is called Excess Underinsured Motorist coverage. Excess UIM coverage provides benefits to the insured under his own policy where the amount of the at fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to pay for the damages from the accident. As an illustration of excess UIM, suppose the at fault driver only has liability coverage of $15,000, but you suffered $45,000 worth of damages from the accident. You yourself have underinsured motorist coverage with a policy limit of $30,000. In this situation, despite the at fault driver NOT having enough liability coverage to cover the total costs, you will be able to recover the additional $30,000 because YOU have policy limits of $30,000. The $30,000 is the difference between the at fault driver’s limits and the claimant’s damages. Excess UIM is unique because it allows for the claimant to recover to the FULL extent of the claimant’s UIM limits.

The other kind of UIM coverage LIMITS the amount of compensation you can recover because it supplements the at fault driver’s insurance limits ONLY to the extent by which the UIM limits exceed the liability limits. This kind of UIM coverage is often referred to as “Reduction” UIM. Here, the amount the claimant may recover is reduced by the amount of the recovery from the at fault motorist. For example, suppose the claimant has UIM policy limits of $30,000, the at fault driver has UIM policy limits of $15,000 and the total damage costs is $45,000. Here, the claimant has greater policy limits than the at fault driver has. In this situation, the claimant cannot recover the full $30,000 under his policy because his policy limits must be reduced by the policy limits of the at fault driver. Therefore, the claimant can ONLY recover the difference between the two policies, which is $15,000.

If you were involved in an accident with an underinsured motor vehicle, you are entitled to recover as much compensation as possible. Many insurance companies will attempt to offer you a lowball settlement, but often the amount won’t satisfy the total damages from the accident. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm in Myrtle Beach, SC, will fight to ensure you get full recovery for your motor vehicle accident.

Were you offered UIM insurance when you signed up for your policy? Perhaps you don’t recall anything about UIM insurance ever being offered. It is state mandated in South Carolina that you are offered UIM by your insurance company. If you think you never had the opportunity to accept UIM coverage, you have a claim as well.

Contact your Myrtle Beach Auto Accident attorneys today at the Lovely Law Firm at 843-281-7283 for a Free Case Evaluation.


What Happens If An Uninsured Driver Hits You in South Carolina?

Uninsured Motorists claims are sometimes difficult for drivers to understand. Suppose you are driving to work one morning. It seems to be the same normal daily experience when suddenly you are involved in an auto accident. Unfortunately, the at fault driver has no insurance to cover your significant damages. Even though South Carolina requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, the driver who injured you or your passenger may not have had insurance. When a Myrtle Beach driver refuses to purchase or is unable to purchase car insurance, that driver puts everyone at risk. When this hypothetical at fault driver injures another person, his lack of insurance will be inadequate to cover the damages. Injured parties like yourself, however, may be covered by their own insurance policies. The key is to carry uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy. Uninsured motorist coverage protects accident victims in situations such as the hypothetical above. Or in another common accident type, the hit-and-run accident, where the at fault driver cannot be located and so their insurance cannot be used to cover your damages.

Uninsured motorist coverage will activate to protect your interests in these situations. Your insurance company will act as if it were the at-fault driver’s insurance company in compensating you. These matters can be complicated, however, so it is best to speak with a car accident lawyer near you after you’ve been in an accident. Your Myrtle Beach personal injury attorney can file your claim on your own policy.

Stacking Insurance Coverage

In some situations an injured driver may be able to stack policies to increase the amount of available recovery. These scenarios are fact specific. Contact the Myrtle Beach injury lawyers to determine if you are able to do this.

Collecting Insurance Benefits Under an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Policy

To recover benefits under an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the injured party typically will need to show that the other motorist was at fault. The injured party will also need to prove that his or her bodily injuries were significant. To collect benefits under an underinsured motorist policy, the injured party must have received the entire amount of insurance coverage available from the at-fault driver’s insurance company before the injured party can make a claim against his or her own insurance company under the underinsurance coverage provision.

It is important to carry both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy to make sure you can get the compensation you need should you ever be involved in an accident. If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, contact The Lovely Law Firm, in Myrtle Beach, SC, and schedule a consultation online with a Myrtle Beach auto injury attorney or call us at 843-281-7283.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage FAQs

Can You Sue An Uninsured Driver In South Carolina?

Yes, you can sue an uninsured driver in South Carolina for damages sustained in a car accident. There are some things to consider, however. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, then your insurance policy will be able to provide you with compensation, negating your need to sue the at fault driver. The other thing to think about is if the driver doesn’t have insurance it’s typically because they can’t afford it, which means even if you do sue them, they might not be able to afford to pay you. It’s always recommended that you speak with a car accident attorney near you after you’ve been in a car crash on the best way to proceed.

Is South Carolina A No-Fault Insurance State?

No, South Carolina is not a no-fault insurance state. South Carolina is an at fault insurance state, which means that whichever party is deemed responsible for the accident is liable to pay the damages. For accidents where both parties are somewhat at fault, comparative negligence law comes into play. Basically it states that as long as you are less than 50% for the accident you can receive compensation, however that compensation can be reduced based on the percentage that you are at fault. For example, you would typically get less if you are found to be 30% at fault than if you were only 10% at fault.

How is Fault Determined in South Carolina?

The circumstances of the accident are investigated by the police officers at the scene as well as insurance investigators. Evidence will be collected such as witness statements, dash cam footage, security camera footage, images of the accident and surrounding area, analyzing skid marks, road conditions, etc. All of this will be used to create a picture of the events that lead to the accident and ultimately determine who is at fault. As mentioned above, South Carolina uses comparative negligence law, which means both parties can be found at fault depending on the circumstances of the accident.

How Much Does Underinsured Motorist Coverage Cost In South Carolina?

Although underinsured motorist coverage is an additional monthly fee added onto the total for your insurance policy, it is typically very reasonable. Depending on your particular needs and situation ie. how many cars/drivers are on your policy, your driving record, etc. underinsured motorist coverage can range anywhere from $33-$136 a year. This figure is also dependent on the amount of coverage you want ie. $25,000-$50,000.

Every case is different. Results vary.

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