Why Auto Insurance Minimums May Not Be Enough
In South Carolina, drivers are required to carry auto insurance. The South Carolina Department of Insurance states that the minimum amount of coverage required is:
- Liability coverage of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage coverage of $25,000 for all property damage in one accident
- Uninsured motorists coverage of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 for all persons injured in one accident, and $25,000 for property damage in one accident (25/50/25)
Many people carry insurance with just the minimum coverage amounts because it costs less in premiums and/or they believe the state-mandated minimums are enough. However, it’s important to understand that the bare minimum amounts of coverage may not be enough to fully protect you in many cases. Here’s why.
Auto Accidents Are Expensive
The average cost of a new vehicle is around $36,000, and even used cars sell on average for almost $20,000. Whiplash, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and broken bones and some of the most common injuries after an auto accident, each of which can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars to treat, depending on the severity. It’s easy to see how the money can start to add up in a bad accident.
While the average property damage claims were $3,231 and bodily injury claims were $15,443 per accident in 2013, according to the RMIIA, these figures take into account minor fender benders and medical issues that cost little to fix. A severe car accident can easily cost ten times that in bodily injury and property damage.
If you’re the at-fault driver carrying only the minimum coverage that doesn’t cover all the damage caused, you can find yourself personally liable for the balance. This could put your assets – including your savings, your future wages, and your home – at risk.
Many Drivers Are Uninsured (or Underinsured)
Nearly 10% of South Carolina drivers are uninsured, according to a study done by the Insurance Research Council. That means if you are in an accident that’s not your fault, there’s a very real possibility that the other driver has no insurance. Your own car insurance policy will step with the uninsured motorists coverage, which is required by law, but as explained above, if you’re carrying the minimum (25/50/25) it may not be enough to cover all your expenses.
Plus, even if the at-fault driver is insured, they may be underinsured and unable to cover the damage they’re responsible for. This is when you’ll want to rely on underinsured motorists coverage on your own policy – if you have it. It’s not required in South Carolina.
While theoretically you would be able to sue the at-fault driver for compensation, the reality is that many people who are uninsured or underinsured in the first place don’t have a lot of assets, so it’s unlikely you’ll get the compensation you’re after from them.
The bottom line: Auto insurance minimums won’t fully cover you in many instances, so it’s best to carry more than the minimum. Consider a policy of at least $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 to be better covered in case of a bad accident.
If you have questions about an accident you’ve been in, call today to set up an initial consultation, absolutely free, with one of the experienced auto accident attorneys at The Carolina Law Group.
The Carolina Law Group has four offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.757.5555). Call today.