Uninsured Motorist Coverage Explained
Uninsured motorist coverage can spare you the difficulty of shelling out your own money for crashes you didn’t cause.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you typically expect the other driver’s insurance to cover your damages, but what happens if they don’t have insurance? In those instances, your own auto insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage kicks in to help fend off the financial side-effects of the accident.
What is uninsured motorist insurance?
Uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”) is a part of your car insurance that helps pay for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, rental car, and car repairs if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance.
Typically, when you’re in an accident and the other driver is at fault, their liability coverage pays for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and repairs to your car. But if the other driver doesn’t have car insurance, you will have to pay out of your own pocket for those expenses, and that’s where uninsured motorist coverage kicks in.
Roughly 9.4 percent of South Carolina drivers are uninsured according to the insurance information institute.
South Carolina law requires that every auto insurance policy sold in our state must provide UM coverage. UM coverage allows you to protect you, your passengers, and your family from the potentially devastating financial effects of a car accident involving an uninsured driver.
Uninsured motorist coverage is critical, which is why it’s required on all auto insurance policies issued in South Carolina. Without it, injured victims could face the financial consequences of the accident on their own, but UM policies give the people of South Carolina the opportunity to protect themselves and the people they love the most.
What does it mean to be uninsured?
In South Carolina, the definition of an uninsured vehicle typically means one of four things:
- The vehicle does not have liability coverage.
- The vehicle’s liability coverage is less than the minimum required in South Carolina.
- The vehicle is stolen.
- The vehicle was used in a hit-and-run and the driver cannot be found.
What does uninsured motorist insurance cover?
Generally speaking, uninsured motorist insurance covers the following types of damages:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage helps pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from a crash caused by an uninsured driver.
- Uninsured motorist property damage coverage will replace your vehicle or helps pay for repairs to your vehicle after a crash caused by an uninsured driver.
Most of the time, accidents are unavoidable from the vantage point of the injured, but UIM coverage can lessen the financial impact on those injured by another driver’s negligence or recklessness.
What is “stacking” of uninsured motorist coverage?
Automobile insurance laws vary widely across the nation, but in South Carolina, victims that are injured by an uninsured driver can not only use the uninsured motorist coverage on the vehicle that was involved in the accident, but they can also “stack” their other at-home policies in order to protect them from the collection notices from medical providers and the phone calls from bill collectors.
Uninsured drivers put a tremendous financial burden on the victim of an accident, but when a victim is seriously injured, policy stacking can really make a difference. Stacking is critical and can help seriously injured victims receive greater compensation not only for medical bills and property damage, but also for future medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other unforeseeable expenses related to the accident.
Stacking can be a fairly complex concept in some cases, but if you simplify it a bit, the concept is not that complicated. Put simply, it lets you “stack” other uninsured motorist at-home polices—even if those vehicles were not involved in the accident.
To illustrate, let’s imagine that Bob owns a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with $25,000.00 of UM coverage. In addition, Bob lives with his wife, 15-year-old son, and mother-in-law, and each of those people also own a car with $25,000.00 of UM coverage.
On the way home from work one day, Bob was seriously injured by an uninsured driver and his medical bills exceeded $100,000.00. In South Carolina, all is not lost because Bob can “stack” the other at-home polices to make him whole again.
First, he would make a claim on the UM policy of the vehicle that was involved in the accident ($25,000.00). Then, he would make a claim on the wife’s policy ($25,000.00), son’s policy ($25,000.00), and mother-in-law’s policy ($25,000.00) up to $100,000.00. And important to this analysis, these policies do not have to be from the same company. They can actually all be from different auto insurance companies.
Call us if you need assistance.
Stacking can be critical to those that have been seriously injured by an uninsured driver, but it can also seem a little complex at times. If you have been injured by an uninsured driver and are wondering what your options are, you might need a personal injury lawyer to help you with your car accident, and we are here to help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (864) 757-0757 or send us a message at any hour of the day or night.