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Consequences of Driving Without Car Insurance in South Carolina

Driving without car insurance is illegal in the state of South Carolina. Unfortunately, hundreds of drivers do it – leading to liability challenges when these drivers cause car accidents. If you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver, the process for recovering financial benefits may look different than the average claim. If you operate a motor vehicle without adequate insurance, you could face legal and civil consequences. You may have to pay a fine for breaking the state’s insurance requirements, as well as pay out of pocket for another person’s damages.

What Is the Required Insurance in South Carolina?

South Carolina requires all drivers to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of purchasing auto insurance policies. Financial responsibility means you have the ability to cover a victim’s damages if you cause an auto accident, including property repairs and medical expenses, through your insurance provider. South Carolina requires all drivers to purchase insurance that at least fulfills the minimum coverage requirements.

Optional types of insurance include underinsured motorist insurance, collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. It is against the law to allow your car insurance coverage to lapse. Keep up with your insurance by enrolling in auto-pay if you pay your premiums monthly, as well as checking with your insurance provider periodically to make sure you still have coverage. If you get into a car accident during a lapse in insurance, you could be personally liable for victims’ damages. You could also face legal penalties for driving while uninsured or underinsured.

You must carry proof of insurance with you while you drive. If a police officer pulls you over, you must have this proof readily available upon request. You must also show proof of auto insurance when applying for a driver’s license, renewing your license or registering your vehicle. If a police officer catches you driving without car insurance on your vehicle, the penalties in South Carolina are driver’s license and registration suspension, as well as up to $200 in fines. It could be a misdemeanor crime on your record to drive without insurance.

Immediately after receiving a ticket for driving without insurance, you will need to either pay a $550 uninsured motorist fee or file an SR-22 insurance form for a more expensive type of auto insurance. Failure to pay your fines for driving without insurance could lead to jail time of up to 30 days (or up to six months for a third or subsequent offense). The penalties for driving without insurance increase for second and subsequent offenses.

Civil Repercussions

Driving without car insurance can also have civil repercussions. South Carolina is a fault-based car insurance state, as are most states. All injured victims in a vehicle collision will look to the at-fault party’s insurer for damage reimbursement. If you cause an accident while uninsured, you may end up paying for everyone’s damages out of pocket. Victims will have the right to file personal injury lawsuits against you personally, demanding compensation for their losses.

If you get into a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver, your insurance company should cover your damages. Your uninsured motorist insurance should provide coverage for your medical bills and property repairs. Your insurance company will then pursue reimbursement for its costs from the at-fault driver or another party, so you do not have to deal with the civil claims process. If not, you could receive damage coverage through a personal injury lawsuit. Contact a Greenville car accident attorney if you have trouble getting an uninsured or underinsured driver to repay your losses in South Carolina.