While there are various forms of insurance that can protect you, your family, your home, and others, the most commonly dealt with in personal injury claims is auto insurance. Everyone who drives in the state of South Carolina is legally required to carry auto insurance for their vehicle and their person, just in case they ever cause an auto accident or are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Today, we’re going to look at what the laws are concerning auto insurance in South Carolina and what you can expect from the auto insurance claims process after an accident.
Legal Requirements for Liability Coverage and UIM Coverage in South Carolina
South Carolina has a Code of Laws which includes the requirements for auto insurance coverage that every South Carolina driver must obey to lawfully operate a motor vehicle. These laws state that you must carry at least $25K in coverage for bodily injury or death for one person in any accident, at least $50K for bodily injury or death of multiple persons in one accident, and at least $25K in property damage liability per accident. These are all included in the term, ‘liability coverage,’ because they address the expenses that may occur in an accident for which you are liable for damages.
South Carolina law allows for all drivers to carry UIM coverage that is equal to their 25/50/25 liability coverage. If you purchase additional liability coverage, you can purchase additional UIM coverage, as well. This is the coverage that you can turn to if you are ever in an auto accident with a driver who is illegally uninsured or who has only the minimum of liability coverage, if this does not cover all of your damage. You do not have to have this coverage, by law, but your insurance company is legally required to offer it. Having seen a large number of South Carolina auto accident claims, we at the Michael Jeffcoat Firm strongly advise that everyone purchase UIM coverage because the damages associated with an auto accident are often far greater than what the at-fault driver’s liability coverage can address.
Other Forms of Auto Insurance Coverage Available to South Carolina Drivers
You are not limited to liability coverage and UIM coverage when it comes to your auto insurance in South Carolina. In fact, you can go much further with coverage options like collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. In some cases, you will be required to carry this kind of coverage, not by South Carolina law, but by whomever loaned you the money to purchase the vehicle. Collision coverage is the insurance that will make sure that your property damage is addressed if you get into an auto accident that doesn’t involve another driver. For example, if you hit a nonmoving object, such a tree, then collision coverage will be there for you. Comprehensive coverage is the kind of auto insurance coverage that will address any other types of damage, such as that caused by vandalism, falling objects, flooding, theft, and other non-auto accident related damages.
When You Suspect Insurance Fraud or Have an Auto Insurance Company Complaint
Any time you suspect that someone is committing auto insurance fraud, you should be aware that this affects everyone. You can contact the South Carolina Insurance Fraud Hotline (888-95-FRAUD) and report the suspected fraud anonymously. If you are having issues with a particular auto insurance company, such as if they are not offering coverage that you have purchased, then you can file a complaint with the South Carolina Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Services.
What To Expect from the Process of a South Carolina Auto Accident Insurance Settlement
Whenever you are involved in an auto accident in South Carolina, you are required to contact the police if the damage is greater than $400 or if anyone is injured. You should contact emergency help for urgent injuries and the police, both of which can be accomplished by dialing 911 and reporting the situation. You then cannot leave the scene of the auto accident until the police arrive. If you leave the scene of an accident without identifying yourself and providing your insurance information, then you can be charged with the crime of committing a hit and run, which is taken very seriously in South Carolina.
From this point, how your auto accident claim proceeds will depend on the details of your case, how the incident occurred, whether any laws were broken, whether anyone was grossly negligent, and whether or not there were any extenuating circumstances like weather or road construction. Typically, however, if you are not the at-fault driver, then you will quickly hear from the auto insurance company of the at-fault driver, and they will offer you a fast settlement. You may be tempted to accept this settlement offer, especially if you’ve never dealt with an auto insurance claim before. This is because those who don’t have experience with such situations are not expecting to be taken advantage of. Yet, this is exactly what the auto insurance company will do. They will try to get you to settle your claim for a low amount or they will deny your claim. They will expect you to believe what they say about the value or validity of your claim, without looking into it any further. This is a mistake.
What you should do instead is let the insurance company know, when they contact you, that you are not prepared to give a statement and intend to speak with an attorney before discussing settlement. Then, call the Michael Jeffcoat Firm to discuss your options, and let us handle the insurance claim negotiations on your behalf. In many cases, the insurance company only takes you seriously when they are approached by your experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer. We understand the process, how to gather evidence and prove liability and damages, and we’ll make sure you aren’t taken advantage of. In most cases, your claim will never see a courtroom, because both sides benefit from avoiding this costly outcome. Yet, it is important to file your claim quickly, so that you don’t lose the right to take it to court if necessary. You have three years to do so, according to South Carolina’s statute of limitations on auto accident injuries and property damages. Your attorney will ensure that you act within this timeframe.