Choosing the Right Car Insurance for the Coverage You Need
Most people do not spend enough time reviewing their car insurance. Most renew their car insurance year after year without considering whether they have the right coverage as their needs change. They rely on the insurance sales agent or simply ask for the cheapest premium without understanding the different coverage types available. Choosing the right car insurance coverage can have important consequences should an accident occur.
In South Carolina, there are a number of different kinds of car insurance coverage; some are required, and some are optional:
Liability Insurance: Pays for personal injuries or property damage you cause to other drivers. Liability with minimum limits of $25,000 for injures to any one person, $50,000 total for all persons injured in a single accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
The minimum limits may look like enough coverage but consider this: an emergency room visit can exceed $25,000 and many cars today cost more than $25,000.
If you do not have enough liability insurance, you can be held personally liable for any damages over your coverage limits. You can purchase excess liability coverage for surprisingly little. You should ask your sales agent for quotes on higher coverage limits at least once a year to compare your options.
- Medical Payments Coverage (Med-Pay)/Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Pays for medical expenses and sometimes lost wages for you, members of your family residing in your household and passengers up to a stated amount without regard to fault or who caused the accident. These benefits are not required and often offer a small compensation amount.
- Collision Insurance: Pays for towing, storage charges and any damage to your car as the result of an accident without regard to fault. There is usually a deductible associated with this coverage such as $250 or $500, meaning you have to pay this amount out of pocket before the insurance company will pick up the balance. Collision insurance can be very helpful in getting your car fixed if there is a dispute as to who was at fault for the accident or if the adverse driver’s insurance company drags their feet accepting liability. Collision insurance is not required and you should ask your insurance sales agent for quotes with different deductibles. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium is for this coverage.
- Comprehensive Insurance: Pays for other damage to your car such as a fire, vandalism, flooding, theft, falling objects and broken glass. Comprehensive coverage is not required.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage: Pays for injuries to you, members of your household, passengers and for your property damage if the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance. UM coverage is required at least in an amount equal to the minimum 25/50/25 limits. You should ask your insurance sales agent for quotes for increased coverage.
- Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage: Pays for your injuries to you, members of your household, passengers and for property damage if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. UIM coverage is not required but insurance companies are required to offer UIM insurance to you. The attorneys at Steinberg Law Firm highly recommend you check your policy and add UIM coverage to your insurance policy if it is not already included.
- If you are financing, GAP Insurance is another kind of insurance you can purchase from the car’s lending bank to protect yourself in the event of an accident. If you are financing you may owe more than your car is worth. The insurance company will only pay the fair market value for your car in the event of a total loss, leaving you with responsibility to pay the difference to your bank. GAP insurance takes care of the loan balance on a totaled car and can be purchased at the time you buy your car to protect you against this shortfall.
The Steinberg Law Firm strongly encourages everyone to review their car insurance coverage next time it is up for renewal. You should discuss difference options with your insurance sales agent and get quotes for different levels of coverage. You will be surprised how little it costs to get the coverage you need to protect yourself, you family and passengers. If you have any questions, please call one of our experienced automobile accident lawyers at any of our three offices.
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