What Are the Car Insurance Requirements in South Carolina?
Car insurance requirements and rates vary by state, meaning each state has its own unique laws and rules that stipulate how much insurance coverage you need to legally drive.
Most states in the US require drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance on any vehicle registered in the state — and South Carolina is no exception. Many forms of insurance will help protect you, your home, your family, and others. However, the most common type of insurance seen in personal injury claims is auto insurance.
This fact is why understanding South Carolina auto insurance laws is crucial for anyone who lives, drives, or works in the state. Driving without car insurance is illegal in South Carolina.
And everyone who drives in South Carolina is legally obligated to carry car insurance for their vehicle, just in case they cause an auto accident — or, in some cases, are involved in one with an uninsured driver. (Note that if you get into an auto accident with an uninsured motorist, the process for recovering compensation may be different than an average claim.)
Below are the state-mandated liability insurance minimums set by the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
What Is the Minimum Car Insurance Amount for South Carolina?
South Carolina, like many states, requires all drivers to show evidence of financial responsibility by purchasing car insurance policies. “Financial responsibility” simply means that you should have the ability to cover the expenses of anyone involved in a car accident that you technically caused. Liability coverage pays for various expenses, such as property damage expenses, medical bills, and other losses incurred by passengers, drivers, or pedestrians who were injured or hurt in a car accident.
According to South Carolina law, all drivers have to purchase car insurance that at least meets the minimum coverage requirements.
Every state establishes certain minimum coverage requirements for car insurance. This is important, as it ensures that in the unfortunate event of a car accident, anyone hurt by a negligent driver can get the medical care they need and deserve without having to pay out-of-pocket.
Here is how that insurance coverage protects you and other drivers:
Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Insurance
Bodily injury liability coverage helps protect your valuable assets in the event that you cause an accident that leads to someone else being injured. Any time a driver with BIL insurance causes a crash, and that crash requires someone to receive medical treatment, the BIL policy is supposed to pay for the injury victim’s medical expenses.
BIL insurance covers a wide variety of damages, including not just medical expenses but also projected future costs, pain, and suffering, and lost income up to the driver’s insurance policy limit.
South Carolina’s car insurance statute requires drivers to carry BIL coverage of at least $25,000 per individual and up to $50,000 per accident. However, as a driver, you have the option to buy additional coverage.
Property Damage Liability (PDL) Insurance
Property damage coverage, naturally, pays for property damages that the policyholder causes in of an accident for which they’re considered at fault. The insurance provides coverage for repair (or replacement) costs of vehicles, but not medical expenses and other car injury-related losses. PDL insurance can also provide coverage for a rental vehicle for the accident victim, in many instances, and it will pay for any personal items that were damaged or destroyed in the accident, such as a smartphone. As explained by the South Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI), this coverage extends to include other property that could be damaged in a crash, such as buildings, houses, fences, walls, and equipment.
Drivers in South Carolina are required to carry property damage coverage of $25,000 per accident, at minimum, and they can buy additional coverage.
Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Insurance
This insurance policy protects you in case you’re involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver. Note that hit-and-run drivers are also deemed uninsured motorists, according to most policies.
UM/UIM insurance offers fault-based coverage similar to property damage insurance and bodily injury liability, except this coverage extends to the policyholder. Here’s how it works: in the event the policyholder gets in an accident that is someone else’s fault, then UM/UIM coverage can step in and pay for costs that were supposed to be covered by the other driver’s BIL and PDL policies.
“Uninsured motorist” refers to situations where the other driver has no insurance at all, whereas “underinsured motorist” refers to crashes where the at-fault driver has coverage, but it is not enough to pay for all of the damages suffered by the victim.
South Carolina is one of the few states that require drivers to carry uninsured motorist insurance coverage equivalent to that needed for BIL and PDL. Underinsured motorist coverage is, however, optional.
There are many types of optional insurance in South Carolina. These include collision coverage, underinsured motorist insurance, and comprehensive coverage.
The comprehensive insurance coverage pays for damages caused by factors outside the policyholder’s control and is not considered the fault of another driver or identifiable third party. Common examples include damage caused by falling trees, wind, fire, or storms. Damages caused by crimes, including theft and vandalism, are also covered.
Collision coverage helps pay for damage to your own car or property in situations where no other form of coverage is available. The easiest way to understand how this coverage works is that it applies when you are at fault for causing damage to your own vehicles, such as when you back into a mailbox or fire hydrant.
Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if you are involved in a car accident in South Carolina where the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance, as mentioned above.
Legal Consequences and Ramifications of Driving Without Insurance
It is against the law to allow your state-mandated auto insurance coverage to lapse. This is why it is a good idea to keep up with your insurance costs by enrolling in autopay, especially if you pay your insurance premiums monthly. You can also purchase policies that are effective for an entire year, often at a significant reduction in premium costs.
You have to carry proof of insurance with you while driving. If a police officer pulls you over in South Carolina, you must have this evidence readily available upon request. Also, you have to show proof of car insurance when applying for your driver’s license or renewing your license.
If you drive a motor vehicle in South Carolina without adequate insurance, you may face consequences from the state as well as from any civil actions filed against you in the event you cause an accident. For example, you may have to pay a fine of up to $200 for breaking the state’s car insurance requirements. It could also be a misdemeanor crime on your record to drive without auto insurance.
Failure to pay these fines could lead to jail time of up to thirty days (or up to 6 months for a subsequent or third offense). And the penalties for driving without insurance increase considerably for second and subsequent offenses.
South Carolina Injury Attorneys Can Help Car Accident Victims Recover Money Damages Caused in SC Accidents
South Carolina is considered a “fault” state for car accidents. This designation simply means that the individual who caused the auto accident is financially responsible for the resulting injuries and harm.
In most cases, when a car accident occurs, one driver will be considered at fault, and they will be responsible for paying for the costs of injuries and repairs for everyone else involved. Because of this system, some drivers may be unclear on whose insurance to use for a claim, how to prove that person was at-fault, or how to fully cover the costs of their own injuries.
In some cases, the person who is at fault will be clear. But in others, each driver may accuse the other of being at fault, and people who are hurt will not know where to turn to cover their medical bills and other costs.
That’s where an attorney can help. By hiring your own personal injury lawyer, you can determine who is at fault for your crash and which insurance policies are available for you to file a claim with. In the event that you must prove your damages or provide other evidence of fault, an attorney can be there to document your injury costs, investigate the accident, research applicable laws, and use every legal strategy available to pursue the maximum amount of compensation.
In cases where an insurer doesn’t want to pay or someone won’t accept fault, your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit and even take the appropriate parties to court. Whether by obtaining you a settlement or a court award, your attorney’s job is to seek any and all forms of compensation available so that you can financially recover after your wreck.
Call Auger and Auger if You Have Been Injured in a South Carolina Car Accident
Contact a Myrtle beach car accident attorney in South Carolina if you have trouble getting an underinsured or uninsured driver to repay your damages and losses. Auger & Auger is a client-focused firm dedicated to helping injury victims in South Carolina recover after their accidents.
If you were hurt in an auto accident, the team of experts at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers could help you secure damages. You can call our office at (855) 971-1114 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-risk consultation now.