Many people who have been in car accidents understand that the long-term effects of an accident can be just as costly as immediate losses. Being in a car accident may cause your auto insurance carrier to raise your premium, the amount you pay to maintain coverage. Typically, a car accident in South Carolina will stay on your insurance record for three years.
That is three years of additional insurance costs after a car accident, often regardless of fault. Your insurance company can even choose to not renew your policy if your driving record has too many traffic violations or accidents.
If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, the car accident lawyers of Joye Law Firm can help you pursue a claim for your medical bills and related losses. We can assist you, just as we have helped others like you across South Carolina for more than 50 years. Contact us for a free legal consultation about your car accident today.
When Does an Accident Go on Your Record in S.C.?
Your driving record is a collection of public records related to you as a driver. You have one as soon as you obtain a driver’s license. It includes information about tickets, accidents, license suspensions, and more.
South Carolina has a point system in which points are assessed against your record for driving infractions. If you are assessed a certain number of points, your license will be suspended or revoked. The system is explained in S.C. Code Section 56-1-720.
In reality, car accidents are not recorded on your South Carolina driving record. It is traffic violations are assigned points. For example, a conviction for reckless driving, which is a common charge after a car accident, is a six-point violation. The infraction of following too closely, which may be charged after a rear-end accident, is a four-point violation. Failing to yield the right of way, which may be charged after a traffic signal accident, also is a four-point violation.
If you are not convicted, there is nothing to report to the S.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and nothing to go on your driving record.
Your driver’s license may be suspended if you accrue too many points. Points on your record are counted at full value for a year, then at half of their original value after 12 months. After two years, the points expire.
You can also have four points removed from your record by completing an approved defensive driving course. A motorcyclist can complete a South Carolina technical college motorcycle safety course or its equivalent.
Insurance companies also keep records of your driving. However, unlike the state, they do count accidents.
How Do Insurance Companies Use Driver Records?
As the Insurance Information Institute (III) explains, the cost of auto insurance depends on several factors, from the type of car you drive to the insurance coverage you have to your driving record and where you park. Generally speaking, the better your driving record, the lower your premium. If you’ve been convicted of serious traffic violations or caused an accident, it’s likely you’ll pay more than if you have a clean driving record.
Your South Carolina driving record is a public record. An insurance company can check your driving record anytime the insurer feels the need. They will do so when you first apply for auto insurance.
Because traffic violations indicate to the insurer that you are a greater risk to insure, you might have to pay higher auto insurance premiums if you have points on your license.
Your insurer might re-evaluate your rates after accident claims or moving violations that are your fault, the Insurance Information Institute says.
In general, after you file an insurance claim for more than a specific amount due to an accident that was primarily your fault, an insurer will increase your premium. The amounts and percentages of these increases vary from company to company, but they generally last for three years.
If your record is bad enough, an insurance company may refuse to renew your policy. For example, a drunk driving incident is likely to trigger a nonrenewal from virtually every insurance company, the Insurance Information Institute says.
Report Every Car Accident, Despite Your Driving Record
We wholeheartedly concur that it is always best to immediately report a car accident, even if you fear that your premium will go up or your policy may be canceled. If your insurer isn’t notified of the accident in a timely manner, the company may refuse to honor your auto insurance policy.
South Carolina is a fault state with regard to car accident claims. You will need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance provider if you are injured in a car accident. This is why it is critical that you report a South Carolina car accident to the police. That ensures you have the other driver’s insurance provider, policy number, and contact information before you leave the scene of the accident.
If you do not report an accident and someone else involved in the accident sues you, it will be harder for your insurer or your car accident attorney to gather evidence to assist you.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
To learn more about your rights after a car accident or about how your accident may affect your auto insurance, contact Joye Law Firm today. Our experienced car accident lawyers have over 250 years of combined experience representing injured people throughout South Carolina. We are proud of our record of results. Let us provide a free, no-obligation assessment of your legal options for your potential accident claim. If we believe that you have a valid personal injury claim due to a car crash, we will offer to handle the claim on a contingency fee basis. We only get paid a legal fee if we secure compensation for you.