Understanding auto insurance policy

Every driver in South Carolina is required to have proof of insurance in order to legally drive. You may be required to purchase some forms of coverage while others are optional, and you must purchase a certain amount of coverage, but will also have the option to purchase more if you wish to.

For example, in South Carolina all drivers are required to purchase both liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage (not all states require uninsured motorist coverage, but South Carolina does). Insurers are also required to offer underinsured motorist coverage, although you are not required to purchase it.

South Carolina also requires minimum amounts of coverage for both liability and uninsured motorist coverage. These are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
    • What this means: Insurance will pay up to this much in medical expenses for someone injured in the crash. If their medical expenses turn out to be less than $25,000, insurance will pay that much but not the full $25,000.
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
    • What this means: Insurance will pay up to this much in medical expenses for people injured in the crash but won’t pay more than this. This amount also overrides the “per person” amount. That means if three people were injured and they all had $25,000 worth of injuries, insurance would not pay $75,000; it would only pay $50,000.
  • $25,000 property damage per accident
    • What this means: Insurance will pay up to this much for all property damage combined (vehicle damage, plus personal property inside the vehicle that was damaged, plus any other property that was damaged, such as buildings).

This coverage requirement may be abbreviated as “25/50/25.”

However, these minimum coverage amounts may not be enough to cover all expenses after a crash. That’s why we always recommend drivers purchase more than the minimum amount of coverage if they can afford to do so. If you are found to be responsible for a wreck that causes more damage than the coverage amount you purchased, you may be responsible for paying the remainder out of your own pocket.

Other typical amounts of coverage that may be offered include:

  • 50/100/50 (we recommend this as the minimum amount you should purchase, if at all possible)
  • 100/300/100
  • 250/500/250

What the Different Types of Coverage Mean

While South Carolina only requires liability and uninsured motorist coverage, there are other types of insurance that are typically available. We go over all of the main types below, including when they can be used.

  • Liability Coverage: This type of coverage does NOT help you pay for any of your expenses after an accident! Instead, this type of coverage protects you from having to pay for other people’s crash-related expenses out of your own pocket if you are at fault for an accident.

Liability coverage will pay for the medical expenses and vehicle repair costs for the other driver, as well as any passengers, when you are at fault. If the other driver is at fault, their liability coverage will pay for your medical expenses and vehicle repairs.

  • Collision Coverage: This type of coverage WILL help you pay to repair your vehicle after a collision, even if you were at fault for the crash. Without collision coverage, you’ll be stuck paying out of pocket to fix your car if you were at fault for the crash.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: This type of coverage covers all vehicle damage that happens outside of a crash. For example, if your vehicle was vandalized, broken into, damaged by hail, or damaged by an animal, your collision coverage won’t pay to fix it, but comprehensive coverage will.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: This type of coverage helps pay for your medical expenses after a car accident, even if you were at fault for the crash. However, it’s usually only sold in small coverage amounts ($5,000 as opposed to $25,000, for example), so it shouldn’t be your only way of paying for crash-related medical bills!
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If you are hit by a driver who is illegally driving without insurance, you can’t file a claim through the liability insurance they don’t have, so instead you’ll need to file a claim with your own insurance through your uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This type of insurance works the same way as uninsured motorist coverage, but it kicks in when your medical expenses are more than the at-fault driver’s insurance limits. For example, you’d use this if the at-fault driver only bought $25,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage, but you have $30,000 in medical bills from the crash.

Your Auto Insurance May Also Cover Additional Perks

Depending on the type of insurance you bought, you may also be entitled to other benefits from your auto insurance provider. For example, it’s common for insurers to offer some roadside assistance benefits or other crash-related expenses, such as:

  • Paying for your vehicle to be towed to a repair shop
  • Paying for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired
  • Emergency travel expenses (typically hotel and food) if your crash happens far from home

Some of these benefits may apply even after a breakdown unrelated to a crash. Make sure to check your auto insurance policy to see what is included.

We’re Here to Help After a Crash

Insurance companies can be notoriously unhelpful and uncooperative when they need to pay out on an auto claim. But that’s where we come in.

At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina car accident lawyers work hard to help injured victims get the full compensation they’re entitled to after wrecks. We make insurance companies live up to their end of the contract, and we don’t take no for an answer. Call today for your free consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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