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Understanding Settlement Options in Underinsured Motorist Claims

Millions of Americans use a car every day, and each one of those days brings the risk of being involved in a car accident. Accidents happen constantly, and South Carolina drivers have been ranked among the worst in the country for causing accidents due to speeding, careless driving, drunk driving, and failure to obey traffic laws.

Most people have car insurance that pays for personal injury and property damage resulting from accidents, and insurance companies will typically pay out if the driver at fault is uninsured. What many people might not realize is that their own insurance companies have the ability to pay out even after the insurance of the at-fault driver pays.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured coverage comes into play when the person responsible for the crash has an insurance policy with a limit that is less than the damage caused by the accident. This type of coverage makes sure that the party who is legally entitled to compensation will be paid the difference left over from the underinsured party’s policy.

It is important to note that underinsured coverage is not a requirement in South Carolina. However, insurance companies are obligated under South Carolina law to offer the optional coverage to new car insurance applicants so that they can be made aware of the coverage and make an informed decision as to whether or not to include it in their policy. Insurance companies must use a form to offer the optional coverage to applicants, and the form must provide at the very least the following features:

  • a brief and concise explanation of the coverage
  • a list of available limits and the range of premiums for the limits
  • a space to mark whether the insured chooses to accept or reject the optional insurance coverage and a space to describe the insured’s desired coverage limits
  • a mailing address and telephone number of the insurance department for the applicant to contact if the insurance agent was unable to answer any questions

Once the form has been completed and is signed by the insured, it will be conclusively presumed that the insured made an informed selection of coverage and the insurance company and agents will not be held liable for the insured’s failure to obtain the optional underinsured coverage.

In some cases, the insured fails to return an executed offer form to the insurer within the allotted thirty days. Under these circumstances, the insurer must add on the uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage with the same policy as the insured’s liability limits.

If the insurer does not provide a form offering the underinsured coverage, or does not add the optional coverage to the insured’s policy if the insured does not return the form, then it may be possible to make the insurer alter the policy to include the underinsured coverage.

Know Your Options

At Solomon Law Group, our auto accident attorneys understand how difficult life can be after a collision, especially when trying to manage the financial and physical repercussions with insurance companies. Our team can make sure that the best settlement is available to you and your loved ones. If you would like to discuss your options in dealing with an underinsured at-fault party, please contact our office today.

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