Charelston Car Accident Lawyer |  The Derrick Law Firm Injury LawyersYou can be the most cautious driver and still become involved in a devastating car crash.

If you are in a Charleston car accident, do you have enough insurance to cover medical bills for you and your passengers? Will you be able to pay lost wages, pain and suffering, and all the costs associated with the car crash without insurance? 

One of the first things your Charleston car accident lawyer will ask you about is your car insurance coverage.

Our Charleston car accident lawyers want you to be prepared for what happens after a crash. We don't want an accident to drain your life savings, hurt your credit report, and put you in debt. Accordingly, we've prepared this guide to South Carolina car insurance so that you can be financially protected against the unexpected every time you get on the road.

South Carolina Car Insurance Requirements

Some forms of car insurance are required, and some are optional. South Carolina requires drivers to carry the following forms of insurance.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is the coverage that pays other people who are injured due to your negligence. This coverage protects your assets if you cause a wreck. South Carolina requires you to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 for all persons injured in one accident.  Claims for bodily injury may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Property damage liability insurance pays for any damage you cause to the property of others. This includes damages to other vehicles and other property, such as walls, fences, and equipment.  The minimum coverage in South Carolina is $25,000 for all property damage in one accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage pays your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other legal damages if someone else's negligence caused the wreck and that person has no automobile insurance. The accident may not have been your fault, but you may be stuck paying all your accident-related expenses if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage. 

South Carolina Car Insurance Options

Optional car insurance coverage may be helpful after a Charleston car accident. You must add these types of insurance coverage when you purchase the policy. You cannot do it retroactively after an auto accident.

Med-Pay and Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Medpay and PIP are like having health insurance on your auto policy. If you are injured, this coverage will pay for medical bills related to your injuries, no matter who caused the crash. This coverage pays as bills are being incurred and does not wait until the end of the case to pay.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured motorist coverage pays for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other legal damages when the at-fault driver has insurance, but the insurance is insufficient to pay all the damages. This coverage is essential in South Carolina since the minimum required amount of liability coverage is only $25,000.00 per person.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your car if your auto collides with an object, such as a tree or another car. This coverage is optional and not required by law. However, collision insurance may be required by your lending institution or lessor. In the case of an accident involving an older car, the cost of repairing the car can quickly exceed the worth of the car. In this case, insurers will "total" the car and pay you what it was worth rather than fixing it.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your auto from almost all other causes, including fire, vandalism, floods, theft, falling objects, and collisions with animals. Comprehensive coverage will also cover broken glass, such as windshield damage. The deductible does not apply in this case.

After a South Carolina car accident, your Charleston car accident lawyer will carefully review your policy and the policy of all other drivers involved in the crash to make sure you get the car accident compensation you deserve.

What Insurance Does Derrick Law Firm Recommend?

While every driver's financial situation is unique, Derrick Law generally recommends that drivers carry at least the following: 

  • $1,000,000 in liability coverage
  • $1,000,000 in uninsured motorist coverage
  • $1,000,000 in underinsurance motorist coverage

This may seem like a lot of insurance coverage. However, if you or a family member are involved in a serious motor vehicle accident that requires significant medical treatment or lost time from work, you will be grateful to have the safety net of car insurance. It will allow you to receive financial compensation for your Charleston, SC, car accident.

Car insurance costs do not rise proportionally with coverage. While you will pay more for additional coverage, you will not pay 40 times the amount for a $1,000,000 policy that you would pay for a $25,000 policy.

You may need to ask your insurer about higher amounts. It is not always in the insurance company's financial interest to sell you higher coverage amounts, but purchasing it may be in your best interest.

We Also Recommend Med-Pay and PIP Coverage

If you are injured in a car accident and you incur medical bills, you can submit your medical bills to your insurance company and receive reimbursement for those medical bills through your Med-Pay and Personal Injury Protection coverages. This is important because it allows you to get the medical care you need quickly and without worrying about how to pay for it. 

Med-Pay and PIP are essential even if you have health insurance because they may cover things your health insurance will not cover. Typically, we recommend somewhere between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 in Med-Pay or Personal Injury Protection coverage.

Understanding Your Car Insurance Policy

Car insurance policies are often confusing. However, you need to understand the legal contract you are signing to know your rights if you are involved in a Charleston car crash.

How to Read Your Car Insurance Policy

Your insurance policy is a legal contract that begins with a declaration page. The declarations page identifies the policy number and provides essential information, including the policy term, coverage limits, and information about the insured. It also contains a description of the vehicles covered under the policy.

After the declarations page, your policy is divided into sections that detail:

  • Types of coverage
  • Rights and obligations
  • Definitions used within the policy
  • Exclusions and limitations

If you received a loan to purchase your car and still have an outstanding balance, the lender will be listed as a "loss payee" on the declarations page. 

How Auto Insurance Rates Are Determined

Each company adopts its own rating system, although there are general guidelines that all companies follow.

The single most significant influence on the rating process is claim frequency. This does not mean how many times you specifically have made an insurance claim, although that will have an additional effect. Claim frequency measures how often an insured event occurs within a group relative to the number of policies in that group. Persons sharing characteristics with high claims groups will be charged more for insurance coverage. 

Specific Factors that Affect Your Car Insurance Rate

The following factors could impact your car insurance rate in South Carolina:

  • Your driving record. Drivers with previous violations or accidents are considered to be at higher risk.
  • Your geographic territory. Urban areas have more claims than rural areas.
  • Your gender and age. Males and specific age groups may have higher rates.
  • Your marital status. Married people may have lower rates.
  • Prior insurance coverage. The insurer may consider whether you have ever had your insurance canceled for non-payment of premiums.
  • Vehicle use. Drivers with higher annual mileage may have more risk and higher premiums.
  • Make and model of your vehicle. Luxury and sports cars average a higher number of claims.

Tips for Lowering Your Car Insurance Premiums

While insurance companies consider the things described above in setting premium rates, there are things that you can do to lower your premiums, such as:

  • Drive safely
  • Shop around and compare prices
  • Take the highest deductible you can afford and also take collision and comprehensive coverage
  • Before buying a vehicle, determine the cost of insuring it
  • Try to pay your premium before the due date
  • Review your policy periodically and update coverage accordingly

Additionally, you can ask insurers about potential discounts. Some possible discounts include:

  • Having multiple cars on a policy
  • Completion of driver education courses
  • Good student drivers under the age of 25
  • Mature driver (between 50 and 65 years of age)
  • Airbags and other safety equipment
  • Anti-theft devices
  • Low mileage accident-free record
  • Having your auto and home insurance with the same company

How to Select a Car Insurance Company

The first step is to select a financially strong insurer that is permitted to do business in South Carolina.

It is essential to shop around to get the best price for the coverage you need. Talk to representatives from several different companies. Tell them your insurance needs and ask what their company will charge to cover you.

Check with rating agencies for a financial analysis, grade, or rating of the insurance companies. Several private companies conduct these, and they are only opinions. However, they can provide you with information about how private analysts view the financial stability of a particular insurance company.

Finally, you can research the company's complaint record.  You can contact the South Carolina Department of Insurance to provide you with the number of written complaints their office has received against a specific insurance company.

South Carolina Car Accident Claims

Unfortunately, many people who purchase significant car insurance policies still need to fight for fair compensation after car accidents. Insurance companies try to maximize their profits by paying out as little as possible in car accident claims, even to the people who paid their policy premiums.

Our experienced Charleston car accident lawyers are here to help you if you've been hurt in a car accident in Charleston and the insurance company doesn't pay what you deserve. A car accident attorney at Derrick Law Firm will make sure that your rights are protected after an auto accident. We are committed to helping car accident victims make fair insurance settlements for car accidents that occur in Charleston and throughout South Carolina.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.