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Rescinding the Uninsured Motorist Law

On behalf of the SCDTSEA, we respectfully request that the “Uninsured Motorist Law” be rescinded. I was shocked to read pages 65-67 of the South Carolina Driver's Manual. It states that South Carolinians can “pay” the Highway Department $550 to legally drive in South Carolina without insurance! I heard from an administrator of the S.C. Association of Auto Insurance Agents, SC that “very few people have taken advantage of this provision of the law, thank heavens.”

In preparing this for your consideration, I knew you would want to know the average motor vehicle personal injury settlement. I checked this on the Internet and a writer Mike Broemmel titled such an article as an contributor, May 06, 2010, and discussed actual damages, punitive damages, and structural settlement and concluded that “the settlement average for all traffic accident cases that occur annually is about $24,000…” I also knew that you would want to know the average cost of automobile liability insurance. Such was answered by Progressive Insurance on as follows: “With the lowest limits possible ($15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident and $5000 property damages, as average), it should run from $40-60 a month.” If we figure $50 a month, it would be $600 a year for liability insurance.

I trust you are alarmed that motorists can pay the Highway Department $550 to receive the “privilege” to drive in South Carolina without the liability insurance others have! As an insurance executive said, “most liability insurance policies these days can be obtained…” for the amount one pays the Highway Department to drive without insurance! Where is the logic? My past principal, Dr. Sid Cates, experienced a tragedy when his wife had a traffic collision. The person who hit her was at fault, and was an uninsured motorist. It was a nightmare to get any kind of settlement. Dr. Cates had an uninsured motorist clause in his insurance, but would still have to sue his insurance company! Mrs. Candy Cates was an outstanding professional speaker throughout America, but the crash wrecked her professional career. The pain and medicine caused Candy to become lethargic and be home-bound (over 10 years). Such an irresponsible provision needs to be rescinded that allows liability evasion.

Regarding the uninsured motorist provision, I contacted an outstanding legislator who was one of my past students. The Insurance Commission was contacted and they declared that if the uninsured vehicle drivers were liable in an accident the lawyers would prosecute quickly! However, folks who paid the $550 to get out of paying for insurance probably did so because they felt they couldn't afford it. An uninsured teenager crashed into my principal's wife. I would suspect that the teenager felt he couldn't afford insurance. This means if uninsured vehicle drivers are liable in terrible accidents, they probably couldn't make retribution. Uninsured motorists are not protected and we who have insurance are not protected if they hit us and are at fault! The amount the uninsured motorists pay the Highway Department to evade insurance is about the amount they could pay for the lowest limits of liability insurance. The current law jeopardizes all of us. Please rescind this law!

Joe Sabbadino
Driving Educator
SCDTSEA Public Relations