South Carolina Supreme Court Holds that Insurance Company Had No Duty to Offer UIM Coverage Despite Modifications to Motorcycle Accident Policy

In an ideal world, every consumer would have a thorough understanding of the many different types of car, truck, and motorcycle insurance that may be available to them and be able to make an informed decision about coverage.

Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a South Carolina motor vehicle accident to make people realize that they don’t know as much as they thought that they did about their insurance coverage – and that they don’t have nearly as much coverage as they thought they had.

Realizing that the “full coverage insurance” that you thought you had does not include optional coverage like uninsured motorist coverage can be a very unpleasant discovery, especially if you have been hurt by someone else’s negligence and have medical bills mounting up due to the wreck.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the son of a man who was covered under a motorcycle accident insurance policy issued by the defendant insurance company in 2012. At the time that the original policy was issued, the man declined underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. In 2015, the man added his wife and the plaintiff to the policy as “drivers and household residents.” In 2017, the plaintiff sold his motorcycle and purchased another cycle, which was added to the policy. The plaintiff was not offered UIM coverage.

The plaintiff was involved in an accident in 2017 and made a claim in federal court against the defendant, asking it to reform the policy to include UIM coverage based on the defendant’s failure to offer him the optional UIM coverage. The defendant maintained that it had no obligation to offer UIM coverage to the plaintiff under the circumstances. Both parties sought summary judgment.

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina certified the following question to the state supreme court: under the facts presented, was the defendant required to make a new offer of UIM coverage when an additional named insured was added to an existing policy.

Decision of the Court

The State of South Carolina Supreme Court held that the only modifications made to the policy in question were substituting one motorcycle for another and reclassifying the plaintiff as an insured instead of a resident-relative insured. Because the coverage and policy limited did not change with these modifications, the defendant was not required to offer UIM coverage to the plaintiff under the circumstances.

The court so held because the plaintiff and his motorcycle were insured both before and after the modifications at issue, such that the addition of the plaintiff to his parents’ policy was a change contemplated by South Carolina Code Annotated § 38-77-350(C).

Consult a South Carolina Injury Lawyer

If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you need to talk to a lawyer about your case right away. There are a lot of different issues that can come up in these types of cases, including issues of insurance coverage. Having a legal advocate in your corner sooner rather than later can be very important. To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer, please contact the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices in Spartanburg or Greenville. You can reach us at 864-582-5118.

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