THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - SERVING MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT VICTIMS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
One of the most enjoyable parts of being a resident of the South Carolina Low Country is that the weather, with few exceptions, can allow for motorcycle enthusiasts to ride year round. The beauty of our scenic back roads with our oak trees, our marshes, and our ocean views make every weekend ride a new and exciting adventure. So it goes almost without saying that with our climate and our geography, drivers in the Charleston area will encounter motorcycles on a more consistent basis year round on the highways and roads of the area. The one downside to the increased frequency in motorcycle usage and traffic is of course there will be more auto accidents that involve motorcycles. In previous articles, I have discussed the statistics and financial impact of motorcycle accidents versus accidents involving passenger cars. (read article here). What I want to do hear is provide more practical advice and address how much motorcycle insurance one should carry if they own a motorcycle. This practical advice has derivative benefits in that this advice not only is a common sense approach to motorcycle ownership, it can also provide very real financial and legal protections in the event of an accident.
HOW MUCH INSURANCE SHOULD I CARRY ON MY MOTORCYCLE IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC?
South Carolina law requires that all operators of any motor vehicles (including motorcycles) must carry a minimum of 25/50 insurance on their vehicle. What does that mean? The state requires a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance on each vehicle with a max limit of $50,000 in liability coverage for each vehicle being operated in South Carolina. In other words, in the industry we say there is "$25,000 per person, $50,000 total." So yes . . .you can purchase a 25/50 policy for your motorcycle and be in compliance with state law. However, the overriding question here is . . . should you?
In my personal opinion, based on experience and the nature of injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents by riders, I think you should carry a minimum of $100,000.00 in liability coverage on your motorcycle. It is necessary to be clear here so that there is no confusion going forward! I personally would carry a policy of $250,000 in liability protection on a motorcycle, but knowing that most motorcycle owners also must make insurance premium payments within the context of a budget, I at a minimum recommend $100,000.00. If purchasing $100,000.00 is too much a strain on the budget, I will give some tough love here and tell you that you may not want to take the bike on the road.
You may be asking . . . "why should I carry $100,000 in liability on my bike knowing the nature of motorcycle accidents and how motorcycles physically tend to cause less property damage and physical injury, as a whole, than passenger cars?".
Well . . . here is why . . .
MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE AND THE EXTRA PROTECTIONS PROVIDED BY UNDER-INSURED (UIM) COVERAGE
The reason that a motorcycle owner would want to carry a higher limit policy on their own liability coverage on their motorcycle is so that he / she could also purchase the requisite Under-Insured coverage on that same policy. Say What? . . .
If you carry a $100,000 limit on your liability portion of your policy, then under South Carolina law, your insurance company also has to offer you the opportunity to purchase Under-Insured coverage on that same policy up to the limits of your liability coverage. Let me illustrate this in an example:
You own a motorcycle and you are hit by a driver of another car while at an intersection. The other driver is found at-fault. You suffer a broken leg that requires surgical repair and you miss 8 weeks of work. The accident results in $50,000 in medical bills and $6,000 in lost wages. However, the at-fault driver only carries a state minimum policy of $25,000 in liability coverage. Even after collecting the policy limits from the at-fault driver, you are still thousands of dollars short of being able to cover your losses. At that point, if you are carrying a high limit policy and have purchased the Under-Insured coverage in same limits as the liability portion, you can make a claim on your own Under-Insured policy to compensate and collect for the difference.
This is why I insist on a minimum of $100,000.00 in liability on a motorcycle policy . . . it gives you the opportunity to insure yourself for up to an extra $100,000.00 in coverage for when the driver of a passenger car (who is statistically most likely carrying a state minimum policy) is at-fault in an accident and doesn't have enough insurance to cover your medical bills!
I can't be emphatic enough in this point . . . get the highest limit policy you can afford and purchase Under-Insured coverage up to the limits of that policy! The Under-Insured coverage I have seen as cheap as $35.00 for an entire 6 month period under a $100,000 policy. Yes . . . about $6.00 a month! The rationale here is not that you hopefully will ever be at fault and need the liability coverage. The practice is to insure yourself for as much extra protection as possible when you are not at-fault. The nature of the injuries suffered by motorcycle riders and the medical costs associated with motorcycle injuries is exponentially higher than those involved with passenger cars. Protect yourself accordingly!
*Remember . . . Under-Insured coverage is not mandatory. It does not come "automatically" with the policy. It has to be offered to you by your insurance company but it is not automatically added to the policy unless you clearly manifest that you want it and for how much!
MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE AND THE EXTRA PROTECTIONS PROVIDED BY UNINSURED (UM) COVERAGE
As far as Uninsured (UI) coverage is concerned, each policy in South Carolina will carry a minimum of the 25/50 coverage for Uninsured (just like state minimum for liability). This coverage is mandatory under state law. Like Under-Insured, I recommend that if your budget allows, purchase Uninsured coverage up to an amount equal to your liability limits (the recommended $100,000.00). Of course, Uninsured coverage would apply to any situation where the at-fault driver who caused your accident is uninsured and it would apply to any "hit and run" accidents. South Carolina has a very high percentage of uninsured drivers operating illegally on the highways so that is why Uninsured coverage is not only mandatory but should be maintained at the highest levels possible.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - DEDICATED TO SERVING THE VICTIMS OF MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
As a Motorcycle Accident lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and earn just compensation for you as a result of your motorcycle accident. Through my efforts, I can bring about much needed financial relief to a motorcycle accident victim who may be suffering from serious injuries and permanent disability. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligent or reckless acts of another in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306