Car insurance is an essential aspect of vehicle ownership. Proof of insurance is one of the first things you'll be asked for if you're pulled over by a police officer, and we may take for granted that in case of an automobile collision that we'll be able to exchange insurance information with the other party.
Unfortunately, not everyone has liability automobile insurance. We've spoken before about the rate of underinsured drivers in South Carolina and how to protect yourself, but there's one problem that could be even worse — drivers with no insurance at all.
How many uninsured drivers are there in South Carolina, and what kind of problems can they cause? Let's take a look.
The Percentage is Low, But Numbers Are High
According to a recent study by the Insurance Research Council, approximately 7.7 % of drivers on South Carolina roads are uninsured. While that may not seem like a high percentage, keep in mind that means that on average one out of every thirteen cars on South Carolina roads has no car insurance.
Other states have even higher numbers, with Oklahoma having a more than 1 in 4 chance of a driver being uninsured. Any multi-state trip puts you at about a 1 in 7 chance of encountering a totally uninsured motorist while driving, and while the odds of getting involved in a collision with one of these drivers is fairly low, the overall numbers still add up to nearly 800,000 minor or major wrecks involving uninsured drivers each year.
What to Do If You're Hit by an Uninsured Driver
One of the first things you should do in every case of a collision between vehicles is to exchange contact and insurance information.
In the case of a hit-and-run or an uninsured driver, however, you may find that there isn't any insurance information for you to collect. In that case, contact your car insurance company immediately to let them know this detail.
South Carolina drivers are required to carry coverage to help in case of an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run, so your insurance agent will know what steps to take next. Be sure to call in your claim as soon as possible in order to move things along quickly, especially if your car has suffered significant enough damage that you'll need access to a rental while you wait for it to be repaired or totaled out.
However, just because we advise immediate contact with your insurance agency, that doesn't mean we advise simply taking them at their word.
Protect Yourself from Insurance Bad Faith
We've mentioned insurance bad faith before here on the blog, but it's always good to keep it in mind. While the basic goal of insurance is a positive one, modern insurance is a for-profit business that makes billions in profits each year. Insurance companies have been known to outright deny, delay, or underpay on claims in order to maximize their own profits at the expense of customers.
When you file your claim for help after being hit by an uninsured driver, do some research on your own to make sure you know the total value of your vehicle prior to the accident.
Insurance companies may try to underpay or claim the car is worth less than it really is, making it easier for them to declare it "totaled" or write a check for a lower amount than you deserve.
Sometimes medical claims are denied outright despite being valid according to your health insurance policy, so follow up with these denials to find out the reasoning. You may find the claims covered after a second look — or you may find yourself needing to contact legal representation.
Wondering what to do if you're involved in a car wreck where the at-fault driver drives away before you can get their information? Check back here next week, where we'll take a look at "John Doe" cases where the party at fault is unknown.
Here to Help With Uninsured Drivers and Insurance Bad Faith
Whether you're looking to be compensated by the uninsured driver who was at-fault in your car wreck or you're hoping to regain the compensation you deserve from an insurance company acting in bad faith, you deserve legal representation dedicated to protecting your individual rights.
BNTD Law, located in Columbia, South Carolina, has experience in dealing with automobile accidents — including motorcycle wrecks and wrecks involving tractor trailers. We also have experience in cases that involve an insurance company acting in bad faith, and we would be happy to speak with you about your unique situation and help you decide on your next step. Reach us by phone at (803) 779-7599 or contact us online to request your FREE consultation today!