When drivers in South Carolina purchase auto insurance, many only consider two things: the amount of coverage and the cost of the premium. These drivers only purchase a liability policy, which mainly only covers injury or damage to others and leave little protection for themselves. However, there are other things to consider. Some of these considerations include (1) putting extra consideration into their policy limits, (2) purchasing underinsured motorist coverage, (3) purchasing PIP, and (4) purchasing comprehensive and collision coverage.
Insurance Policy Limits
Regarding the policy limits, many drivers try to go the cheapest route possible and purchase liability coverage only for the minimum limits required by South Carolina law, which is currently referred to as “25/50/25” limits. What this means is that if the driver is at fault in an auto accident, the insurance company will only cover up to $25,000 of any individual injured person’s damages arising from the accident, up $50,000 total regardless of how many people are injured, and up to $25,000 of property damage. However, there are strong reasons to consider purchasing additional sums.
First, a mistake on your part can be devastating to someone else. If a person dies or sustains severe injuries in an automobile accident, the injured driver can make a personal injury claim against you and is not required to settle for your insurance policy limits. They may actually go after your assets in addition to whatever coverage limits you have.
Second, when you purchase liability insurance, you are also purchasing “uninsured motorist coverage.” This type of coverage may protect you in the event you are injured by a driver who either has no coverage at all or who leaves the scene so that his identity is unknown. If you are seriously injured in an accident by someone who does not have insurance, it will be much more comforting to know that your recovery is not limited to $25,000. So, your policy limits may not only cover the losses of someone else, but they may also set the amount of compensation you receive in certain instances.
Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage (UIM)
When you purchase your policy, the agent will ask if you want to also purchase “underinsured motorist coverage.” Underinsured (abbreviated as “UIM”) is different from the above-described uninsured (abbreviated as “UM”) because UIM covers your own losses at the fault of another when the other driver has a policy, but the policy is not great enough to compensate all of your losses. In other words, if you have medical bills of $50,000, but the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in coverage with no assets, your recovery may be limited to $25,000. If you have UIM, then your own policy will protect you for the amounts over $25,000 up to the amount of coverage you purchase. UM does not protect you if the other driver has a policy, even if the policy is not enough. You may purchase UIM up to the amount of liability coverage you purchase. Some people purchase larger amounts of liability coverage just so that they may purchase larger amounts of UIM.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP coverage) will pay your medical bills up to the amount of the PIP. Other states call this coverage “med-pay” although the terms essentially mean the same thing. With this type of coverage, it does not matter who is at fault. Also, it is relatively inexpensive and in a much lower amount compared to your coverage. For example, it is common for a $100,000 policy to have $5,000 in PIP with it.
Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
Sometimes, something happens to your vehicle that is unrelated to an accident. Some examples include damage due to storms, vandalism, and rocks on the highway. Comprehensive coverage can protect you from these types of events. If you purchase this coverage, double-check to confirm it also covers theft.
Collision coverage can compensate for property damage to your vehicle if the accident is your fault. This coverage may apply if you hit a pole, wall, or another vehicle.
Many people don’t realize that you don’t have these types of coverage if you only purchase a liability policy.
When purchasing auto insurance, please keep in mind the issues raised in this article. Ask your insurance agent as many questions as you see fit to ensure you are purchasing the best coverage package for you. Consider whether paying a little extra in premiums is worth significantly increasing your coverage in the event something terrible happens. Also, be sure to review your declarations page and insurance policy.