We recently had a client who was badly injured in a motor vehicle collision.
South Carolina requires all drivers to carry at least $25,000 in liability
insurance for personal injury. It is separate from collision (property)
coverage. Liability insurance is used to pay for any medical care for
someone the driver hurts.
Plus, South Carolina law requires all drivers to have uninsured coverage
of at least $25,000, which is used to pay your own medical bills if you’re
hit by a driver without any insurance.
But as we know, a simple hospital visit can eat up $25,000 in a snap. In
our case, the client’s truck was struck by another truck, causing
broken bones and other injuries. His hospital bills are more than double
the amount of the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.
So how can you protect yourself in the event you’re badly injured
by someone with only the minimum coverage?
You can ask your insurance agent about
Underinsured coverage, or UIM, will help fill in the gap between an at-fault
driver’s liability coverage and the costs of your injuries. Under
South Carolina law, your insurance carrier must offer UIM whenever you
buy or renew your automobile police. It is an additional cost, but it’s
relatively small for the amount of coverage you can obtain. And if you
need it, it’s priceless.
Here’s how it works:
Assume you are injured when Driver A rams into your car while you are stopped
at light. Driver A is deemed at fault. You are taken to the hospital with
a broken wrist. The fracture is set, you go back for follow-up visits,
and you need a few weeks of physical therapy to maintain range of motion
Your medical bills amount to $50,000, plus you missed several days of work.
But Driver A only has the minimum required $25,000 in liability insurance
— not enough to cover your bills, let alone pain and suffering.
If you have UIM, you or your attorney can contact your insurance company
and seek coverage under that policy. If your insurer refuses to pay the
UIM coverage, or refuses to pay enough of it, you can file a claim against
the at-fault driver and get to your UIM.
Talk with your agent, but using your UIM is not supposed to cause your
rates to increase.
- Wes B. Allison