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Basics of Purchasing Auto Insurance in South Carolina

  • By:jimspearsadm

All drivers are required to have liability and uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000/$50,000 on each car they own. Underinsured coverage is unfortunately not a required coverage by law in South Carolina.

Liability coverage covers another person’s damages when you are at fault causing an accident. Your insurance company will then pay the other driver for the damages to their vehicle and if they are injured for those injuries.

LIMITS: the minimum limits liability of $25,000/$50,000 means that if you are in a wreck with another driver the most your insurance company will pay is a total of $50,000.00, no matter how many people were hurt, and a maximum of $25,000.00 per person.

Property damage coverage: The minimum limits coverage is $25,000.00 total for one accident.

Considering the cost of healthcare and the cost of repairing or replacing vehicles after a wreck, these limits are not adequate in many situations.

Uninsured coverage: The minimum limits are the same as for liability; $25,000 per person maximum and $50,000 per accident maximum.

Uninsured coverage comes into play if an uninsured driver causes an accident with one of your vehicles. The limits of your uninsured coverage can be no more than your liability limits. *** Again, considering the cost of healthcare and the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle, these limits are often not high enough to cover all of your damages.

Underinsured coverage: Unfortunately this is not a mandatory coverage under South Carolina law. This coverage comes into play if you are involved in an accident with an at-fault driver and that driver does not have enough liability coverage to pay fully for your injuries and/or your vehicle damages.

**** I highly recommend that every driver purchase underinsured coverage. Many insurance agents fail to adequately inform their customers of the importance of this coverage for you and the passengers in your vehicles! There is an offering form that all insured’s must sign regarding whether they want to purchase underinsured coverage or not. However, I do not believe most drivers are informed of the importance of this coverage.

The amount of underinsured coverage that you are allowed to purchase is limited to the amount of your liability coverage.

PIP Coverage: Until the late 1980’s all auto insurance companies were required to offer this coverage on South Carolina auto insurance policies. Unfortunately that law was repealed. Now very few carriers offer the coverage.

PIP normally covers medical bills related to injuries sustained in the use of your vehicle and accident related lost wages. It is a no-fault insurance, meaning that even if you are at fault in causing an accident you can still recover under this coverage for medical bills and/or lost wages related to a wreck. The limits vary from $500 to many thousands. It covers passengers as well as the driver.

Med-Pay Coverage: This is another coverage that is not required to be offered by auto insurance carriers in South Carolina. However many more carriers offer it than PIP coverage. Med-Pay normally only covers medical bills sustained in the use of one of your insured vehicles. The coverage is usually not that expensive and because it is a no-fault coverage, even if you are at fault it will still cover you. The limits vary from $500 to many thousands.

I understand that auto insurance is expensive. However, I have seen many auto accidents where there was not enough coverage to pay for all the damages! The only way to protect yourself is to carry as much liability coverage as you can afford and pay for uninsured and underinsured coverage in the same amount (limits) as your liability coverage. I tell this to all of my clients, but for most of them it is too late because the accident has already taken place.

Posted in: Auto Accidents