What happens if I get into an accident with an at-fault driver who is either Uninsured or Underinsured? For that matter, what do those terms even mean?
Every driver in South Carolina is required to have Uninsured Motorist Coverage on their own
policy. You’ll see it listed on your declaration page or bill as “UM Coverage”. The reason it’s
required by state law is for your own benefit, since a lot of other drivers on our roads don’t have
insurance coverage these days. The classic example is when the other driver is responsible for
causing the accident, but doesn’t have any insurance of his own. Since he is “Uninsured”,
you’re “UM Coverage” kicks in and will pay for up to $25,000 for your property damage and up
to $25,000 for your medical bills. On most policies, you are not charged a deductible for having
to use your “UM Coverage”, since it’s there to protect you from someone else’s negligence that
was no fault of your own.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage, on the other hand, comes into play when the at-fault driver
has his own insurance coverage, but it’s not enough to cover the costs of your property damage
and medical bills. In other words, he’s underinsured. In this instance, you can use your own
“Underinsured Coverage” to make up the difference. Unlike Uninsured Coverage discussed
above, however, Underinsured Coverage is not required by state law and is optional, so you’ll
need to check to see if you purchased Underinsured Coverage. It will likely show up as “UIM
Coverage” on your declarations page or bill
To give you an example of how you might need to use your own Underinsured Coverage, let’s
say the at-fault driver slams into the back of your car at a high rate of speed and totals the
brand-new car you just paid $30,000 for. Even worse, the accident was so severe that it caused
you to rack up $40,000 in medical bills, which is pretty easy to do these days. Let’s also
assume that, like 70% of drivers in South Carolina, the at-fault driver only has minimum limits of
$25,000 in Property Damage insurance and $25,000 in Bodily Injury insurance. In this case,
since your car was worth $30,000 when it was totaled, the at-fault driver’s insurance company
would pay $25,000 and your own Underinsured Coverage would pay $5,000 to make up the
difference, since the at-fault driver was “underinsured” to cover the total costs. Similarly, your
Underinsured Coverage would pay $15,000 to cover the rest of your medical bills since the at-
fault driver only had $25,000 in Bodily Injury insurance, and was therefore, “underinsured” to
cover all of your medical bills totaling $40,000.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it can be, but only if you have an attorney working for you that
understands the complexities of personal injury law. Trust me, if there is any way for an
insurance company, including your own, to get out of paying you the money you’re entitled to
and deserve, they’ll use every tool in their tool box to do so.
If you need a competent attorney to guide you through the UM or UIM claims process after your
injury, or you simply want an experienced attorney to review your policy to make sure you have
enough UM and UIM coverage, you can always call The Peper Law Firm at 843-225-2520.