South Carolina Uninsured Motorist Coverage Explained

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  • South Carolina Uninsured Motorist Coverage Explained

Whether you’re heading to Kiawah Island to hit the links, Myrtle Beach for a day in the sand, or Clemson to take a tour of the campus, all residents of the Palmetto State must carry the legally required car insurance coverage on their policies. 

All drivers in South Carolina must carry a minimum limit of uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Let’s check out just how much uninsured motorist coverage you need, the difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in the state, and how you can build your South Carolina auto insurance policy to best protect you and your passengers on your adventures. 

What You Should Know About South Carolina Uninsured Motorist Coverage

All drivers must have auto insurance in South Carolina that meets the legal requirements. Drivers are required to carry a minimum limit of uninsured motorist coverage in the Palmetto State, along with liability coverage.

The legal minimum car insurance coverage all South Carolinians must have is $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, $25,000 in property damage liability per accident (25/50/25), and the same 25/50/25 limit of uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Those who lease or finance their vehicles may also be required to carry collision and comprehensive coverages as an agreement on their legally binding contract.

While some states lump uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages (UM/UIM) together, South Carolina allows drivers to carry UM without UIM. Insurers are required to offer UIM coverage, but policyholders can reject this coverage type if they submit their decision in writing to their insurer. 

Those with multiple cars insured may be eligible for stacking uninsured motorist coverage in South Carolina. The way stacking works is if you’re in an accident with an uninsured motorist and you reach the UM coverage limit on the policy for the car involved in the accident, you may be able to stack UM coverage from other policies in your name to receive more coverage for your expenses. As insurers ‘ policies differ, it’s always a good idea to talk to your insurer about stacking before doing so.

While maintaining both UIM with UM isn’t legally necessary, it may be a good idea for your safety. For example, suppose you’re in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have enough liability coverage to cover your medical bills. With UIM coverage, you may be able to fill in the coverage gaps left by the underinsured driver. Without this coverage, you may be on your own for the remaining expenses or decide to take legal action. Either way, having UIM is a much easier option in this scenario. 

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in South Carolina?

According to the South Carolina uninsured motorist statute, drivers are required to carry UM coverage on their auto insurance policies. Drivers may add UIM coverage to their policies to round out the coverage, but they aren’t legally required.

Drivers may also opt into the South Carolina uninsured motorist fund, wherein drivers can pay an annual fee of $600 to have the privilege to drive without insurance. Drivers who opt into this must have a clean driving record and a good insurance history and must not have an SR-22 on file or a history of filing for one. While drivers may opt into this program if they feel comfortable driving uninsured, it’s not recommended to forgo insurance coverage.

One cannot predict the actions of other drivers on the road, which is where auto insurance comes in to save the day. For $600, drivers in the Palmetto State may be able to find a minimum coverage auto insurance policy to at least have some protection against other drivers on the road. 

In South Carolina, driving without adequate car insurance coverage is illegal. Thus, driving without uninsured motorist coverage is illegal since it’s one of the state’s required coverages. However, some drivers ignore this law and face severe consequences. 

Those who drive without insurance in the Palmetto State may face hefty fines and fees, license or registration suspension, or even jail time. Not only do uninsured drivers face legal consequences, but they may also be considered high-risk drivers by future insurers, especially if they file an SR-22 form. High-risk drivers and those with an SR-22 on record often face a significant increase in premiums that takes years to balance out to the average rate in the state of $1,640 annually for a full coverage policy.

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What Does South Carolina Underinsured Motorist Coverage Cover?

Underinsured motorist coverage in South Carolina, or UIM, is similar to UM coverage but sold separately. Where UM covers the policyholder if they’re in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist and don’t have the option to use the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, UIM protects the policyholder once the at-fault driver’s insurance limit is met. 

An underinsured motorist may have the minimum coverage legally necessary in the Palmetto State. However, they won’t have enough coverage to cover the victim’s medical bills. Thus, they are underinsured. A policyholder will use their UIM coverage to fill in the gaps left by the at-fault motorist’s liability coverage once their limit is reached. 

UIM works like liability coverage, as it has two categories: bodily injury and property damage. Underinsured bodily injury coverage (UIMBI) may cover these expenses, among others:

  • Hospital stays
  • Ambulance rides
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Prescription medication
  • Diagnostic tests

Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) coverage may cover the policyholder’s vehicle repairs up to their policy limit. However, policyholders must first pay their deductible to receive the funds from this coverage. 

Coverage details will vary based on your insurer, so be sure to review exactly what your UIM coverage covers with your insurer before binding a policy. Knowing the details of your coverage before binding a policy is essential to make the most informed decision for your safety and wallet.

How Does Underinsured Motorist Coverage Work in South Carolina?

The underinsured motorist coverage requirements in South Carolina state that policyholders aren’t legally obligated to carry this coverage. However, those who don’t want UIM must reject the coverage in writing with their insurer. 

A policyholder with UIM can invoke the coverage when they’re a victim in a car accident, and their expenses exceed the at-fault driver’s liability limit. The at-fault driver must have at least the legal minimum coverage for the policyholder to use their UIM coverage, as it acts as a plan B once the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage runs out.

Who’s Considered an Uninsured Motorist in South Carolina?

An uninsured motorist in South Carolina is a driver that doesn’t have an active auto insurance policy with at least 25/50/25 liability and UM coverages. If a driver has some of these coverages, but their limit doesn’t reach the legal minimum, they are still considered uninsured. 

Driving without insurance in the Palmetto State is illegal. Failure to maintain the legal minimum coverage may result in hefty fines, fees, license and registration suspension, jail time, or any combination of these penalties. Ultimately, carrying at least a minimum coverage policy is much more cost-efficient than forgoing coverage and risking financial ruin. 

Not only do uninsured motorists risk facing legal penalties, but they also risk a spike in insurance premiums and being sued by the victim of an accident they cause. Suing under uninsured motorist in South Carolina is legal and pretty common, as victims of accidents with uninsured motorists need financial compensation for injuries and damages. Legal defense fees can tally up quickly, causing a heavy strain on the uninsured motorist’s savings.

Why You Need Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in South Carolina

Carrying uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in South Carolina can protect policyholders in various accident scenarios. While all drivers are legally required to have at least 25/50/25 UM coverage, carrying UIM coverage is optional but still a wise investment. 

When a policyholder is injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist, according to the South Carolina uninsured motorist statute of limitations, they have about three years to file a claim and receive their insurance benefits. However, the sooner one files a claim, the sooner one can pay off their medical expenses or debts.

The goal of one’s policy is to provide protection in all sorts of accident scenarios, including those with uninsured drivers or at-fault drivers that don’t have enough liability insurance to cover all the victim’s expenses. Carrying a full coverage policy with the necessary minimum coverage and additional coverages will help you maintain your safety and savings. 

While a full coverage policy isn’t necessarily the cheapest policy in the state, the investment is worth the peace of mind. Getting a full coverage policy with UM, UIM, medical payments (MedPay), collision, and comprehensive coverages from one of the top insurers in the state can provide excellent protection at a lower-than-average rate.

How To Find a South Carolina Car Insurance Quote

In South Carolina, the uninsured motorist law maintains all drivers must have a minimum of 25/50/25 UM coverage on their policies. If you’re searching for a policy with excellent coverage at a lower-than-average cost, the best way to find a policy that meets your needs is to get and compare quotes online. By getting and comparing quotes online, you can tailor a policy to your lifestyle and get the most bang for your buck. 

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for quotes. Here at Clovered, we have a free quoting tool you can use to get unique quotes from several of the state’s top insurers in just minutes. If you prefer to speak to a professional about your quote, you can contact one of our licensed agents at 833-255-4117 or

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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