Maximizing Car Crash Compensation in South Carolina By Stacking Insurance Policies
South Carolina requires drivers to carry a minimum auto insurance coverage of only $25,000. But what happens when your car accident injuries amount to more than this, or worse, if the driver who injured you was uninsured? How will you obtain the compensation needed to cover your expenses?
This happens more often than you may expect. Despite the law, about 9.4 percent of South Carolina’s motorists are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This number does not include drivers who are underinsured – those who do not carry sufficient insurance coverage to pay for damages.
Fortunately, SC is one of the few states that allow “stacking” of insurance policies. This is a way for injured accident victims to receive the maximum compensation they deserve. Here’s an overview of how it works.
Uninsured And Underinsured Insurance Policies In SC
When you purchase your own auto liability insurance, you must also purchase uninsured motorist coverage (UM). UM coverage provides you coverage if you are hit by an uninsured at fault driver. The South Carolina legislature made UM coverage mandatory to eliminate uncompensated loss while driving on our roadways. In addition, insurance carriers in South Carolina must offer you the option to purchase under insured motorist coverage (UIM). Your own UIM policy would pay you benefits if the at fault driver’s liability policy was insufficient to cover your losses from a motor vehicle wreck. UIM coverage may become very important to have because, as noted above, the minimum limits of liability coverage in South Carolina is only $25,000.00
How SC Auto Insurance Policies Can Be Stacked
Under South Carolina law, UM/UIM insurance follows the motorist, not the vehicle. You may be covered by multiple UM/UIM policies that you or your family purchased, and these policies may “follow” you even if some of them were purchased for vehicles not involved in your accident.
So if, for instance, you have UIM insurance for two different cars and you were injured in one of them, you can claim from the UIM policies of both cars, not just the one in the accident. This is on top of the amount you can get from the at-fault driver’s policy.
Let’s look at a more specific example. Say your car was rear-ended at a stop light, and you sustained serious injuries that cost you nearly $100,000. The driver that struck you carried only the minimum coverage of $25,000. However, you have underinsured coverage of $25,000 for the car you were in. Your household also has two other vehicles at home, each with UIM coverage of $25,000 each. All of these are available for you to “stack” for your compensation, so you may claim a total of $100,000.
These examples show what you can do in case the at-fault driver’s insurance is inadequate. In situations where the at-fault driver is not insured at all, your UM insurance applies. Once your primary UM coverage is exhausted, you can then stack other policies you hold.
Limits To Insurance Policy Stacking
A rule in insurance stacking in SC is that the amount you can claim from each policy cannot exceed the maximum amount of the primary insurance – that is, the insurance for the vehicle involved in the accident.
For example, if the UIM coverage on your rear-ended car was only $25,000, you can only claim up to $25,000 from other UIM policies. Even if you have another car at home whose UIM coverage is $50,000, you can only claim $25,000 from that policy.
Another rule is that you cannot stack both UM and UIM policies at the same time. The at-fault driver in your accident can either be uninsured or underinsured, not both simultaneously.
Clarifying Insurance Stacking With The Help of a Lawyer
Auto insurance stacking rules can be confusing, but once you understand your best options you can get paid the maximum amount of compensation. Don’t hesitate to discuss this with an experienced injury attorney.
In South Carolina, the lawyers at Kassel McVey are some of the most competent when it comes to getting the injured rightfully compensated. Talk to us about your auto accident insurance situation. Call Kassel McVey today at (803) 256-4242.
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