- Andrew Littlejohn Johnson
Types of Car Insurance in South Carolina
Have you looked at your car insurance statement or declarations page lately? There are a bunch of lines and symbols and random letters associated with different definitions and coverages. Normally, drivers sign a bunch of insurance forms when they first insure their car, and then they just re-up the contract every year, never looking at the terms and coverages. We will simplify the reading of your insurance policy, though. From the coast of Myrtle Beach, to the flats of Orangeburg, to the hills of Greenville, here is an easier-to-read version of South Carolina coverages:
Liability Insurance: This is the coverage you have in case you are at fault. It is to protect you by paying for the injuries you caused to another person. If someone causes a wreck with you, the first thing we do (related to insurance coverage) is to determine whether liability coverage exists.
Uninsured Insurance: If an at-fault driver has no insurance or the vehicle they are driving is declared not insured (e.g., they stole the vehicle or otherwise have no permission to drive it), the vehicle is labeled as "uninsured." This Uninsured (UM) coverage changes the way we work a case, but it does not mean you are out of luck. When an at-fault driver is uninsured, you look to your insurance coverage at the UM policy. This is likely the only route for recovery. It sounds odd, but your insurance's UM policy now acts as the insurer for the wreck. In South Carolina, this coverage is required to have $25,000 in coverage per person per wreck, and a total of $50,000 in coverage per wreck.
Underinsured Coverage: Let's say someone drove drunk and hit you. You have broken a bone and are out of work. Your lost wages total $10,000, and your medical bills total $20,000. If the intoxicated driver only has $25,000 in liability coverage, they are deemed "underinsured." Underinsured (UIM) coverage is not required in South Carolina. Yet, if you have UIM coverage on your vehicle, once you exhaust the DUI driver's coverage, you may request that your insurance's UIM coverage step in and make you whole.
PIP and Med-Pay: PIP is personal injury protection. Med-pay is medical payments. Neither of these coverages is required in South Carolina. However, if you have opted in for these coverages, they help reimburse you for incurred medical expenses. In some PIP policies, they may also reimburse you for lost wages. These coverages do not change what you recover from the liability portion of the at-fault driver's policy, and it is important that you obtain PIP or Med-Pay coverage if you can afford the premium.
It's important to note that within the Liability, UM, and UIM coverages, there are separate portions for (1) bodily injury and (2) property damage. These are exactly what they sound like. One is to reimburse a victim for injuries sustained; the other is for reimbursement of sustained property damage. However, in South Carolina, something called "punitive damages" may allow for you to recover from property damage for the at-fault driver's action (not just the property damage they caused).
If you still have questions or would like to chat, please give Andrew a call. He loves sharing the knowledge, and he is happy to talk with you about coverages and to see if he can help you.