Rock Hill, SC – Attorney Perspectives
When you have a car accident within a matter of seconds all the choices you have made about insurance come into play. With no time to go back and make any changes, it can be a frightening situation. Elrod Pope has represented many motorists as their car accident attorney in Rock Hill,SC and we want to give you some information concerning Underinsured Coverage on your Insurance Policy.
Know Your Insurance Policy Before an Auto Accident Happens
Of all the confusing terms in your automobile or motorcycle insurance policy, “underinsured coverage” may be the least understood. Unfortunately, many people choose not to purchase underinsured coverage because of their confusion, only to find out after they have had an auto accident that they’ve made a costly mistake.
The first thing to understand about underinsured motorist coverage (often abbreviated UIM) is that it benefits you when you are injured in an auto accident and the other driver involved has inadequate liability coverage. Liability is insurance coverage that is required by the state to pay the damages of a driver you may injure in an accident. UIM works the other way—if you are injured by a driver who has inadequate liability coverage, UIM will pay for your injuries above that other driver’s policy limits. Every dollar of UIM coverage you buy could mean extra dollars toward your medical bills following an accident.
How a Car Accident Activates UIM
The second thing you need to know is that the term “underinsured” is often confused with “uninsured”. Both can be helpful to you if you happen to be in a car accident BUT not at the same time.
- South Carolina law requires drivers to carry liability insurance at a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per auto accident.
- For drivers who have less than this amount of coverage, it’s natural to assume that UIM insures damages you suffer at the hands of people who have less than this amount of coverage.
- In reality, people who have less than the limits are considered uninsured and fall under your uninsured motorist coverage.
- UIM covers everyone else—an estimated 90% of drivers in the state—so long as your damages are greater than their liability coverage.
For example, if you are in a car accident and struck by a driver, who has only the minimum $25,000 coverage, and your damages are $100,000, your UIM insurance will make up the difference provided you purchased at least $100,000 in UIM coverage on your policy. Basically, what UIM does is set a floor at the minimum amount you’re willing to accept if you’re injured in an accident. When you are injured, the negligent driver’s liability limit will be subtracted from the amount of your UIM coverage, and then your UIM will pay anything more, up to the policy limits.
Underinsurance coverage is often your only protection against a payment that covers only a fraction of your medical bills. Having UIM does not affect your ability to recover from the negligent driver; it simply gives you more coverage in addition to what you receive from him. Even better, South Carolina allows you to stack your UIM policies. This means that if your household has multiple cars with UIM insurance, you can recover UIM benefits on each of these policies! That’s worthwhile protection!
Let’s return to the previous example to show how UIM coverage works: this time, your damages from your auto accident are $400,000, and you have $250,000 in UIM coverage on two different vehicles. The negligent driver would first pay you $25,000 from his liability coverage. You would next subtract that $25,000 from your $250,000 UIM policy. That leaves you $225,000 on that policy (with still $375,000 of unpaid damages), so your insurance company would write you a check for that $225,000. Since you still have unpaid damages ($375,000-$225,000 = $150,000), you can stack the coverage on the other car and receive the remaining $150,000 from your insurance company. If you hadn’t had any UIM coverage, you would have been stuck with $375,000 in bills after the insurance money was paid, with a good chance you never would have been able to recover the full amount. This is where having an auto accident attorney can help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Rock Hill attorneys, Elrod Pope Law Firm have the right experience and knowledge for these situations..
Make Wise Choices with Insurance Coverage and Protect Your Family
Don’t take chances with your automobile insurance. UIM coverage is relatively inexpensive and can sometimes be even cheaper than liability coverage! It can easily be added to your policy at any time. If you don’t already have UIM coverage, please consider purchasing it today before that car accident. A little bit of extra expense today is much better than being left with you—or your loved ones—holding the bag on unpaid medical expenses down the road.
Always remember that if you or a loved one is injured in an accident and are not sure what to do next or just want to make sure you are making informed decisions, call the attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm in Rock Hill, S.C. They have extensive experience helping people injured in car accidents get what they truly deserve and know how to navigate through the complex world of insurance companies on your behalf. There is no cost to talk to one of our Rock Hill accident attorneys about your situation. Taking a few minutes to do this very important step can make a huge difference in your protection.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.