The state Department of Motor Vehicles came out with some good news for South Carolina drivers this month. According to The State, the number of uninsured drivers involved in accidents in our state has dropped by half in the past few years, from 18% in 2003 to 9% in 2006, thanks to laws passed in 2002 and 2005. And because those are only the uninsured drivers who get into car wrecks, those numbers are probably even higher for the state as a whole. Industry and issue groups estimated that the uninsured rate could have been as high as 28% before the laws went into effect. As most of us know, this is a problem because uninsured motorists drive up insurance costs for those who do the right thing by buying insurance. They also don’t pay vehicle registration fees, depriving our state of needed tax revenue.
But there’s a more immediate threat posed by uninsured drivers, which many people don’t realize until they or someone they care about are hit. If you’re in an accident with someone who has no auto insurance, you may not be able to collect any compensation at all. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, or what other circumstances might apply. The money just isn’t there, because the other driver illegally failed to buy insurance.
There are a few common ways in which you might still be able to collect in an accident with an uninsured driver. Most commonly, you may be covered for the accident if you have collision coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own vehicle; if the uninsured driver was driving a car belonging to someone who did have insurance; or if a third party, such as the maker of a defective auto part, can be held responsible for the accident. There may be other ways to find coverage, depending on your situation.