You’ve been in a car accident and your medical bills are already piling up. One question that many people who try to handle their own claims forget to ask is “How much insurance coverage is available?” This is an extremely important question as it can affect the value of your case, the manner in which the insurance company handles your claim and whether other coverage such as underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is triggered.
Knowing the amount of coverage available is essential to any negotiation. The insurance companies have this information at their disposal and you can bet that it will greatly affect the way that they negotiate. Insurance companies handle claims in which they have minimum coverage ($25,000.00) very differently from claims where there is $100,000.00 or more in coverage. The majority of clients that we speak with who have tried to negotiate their claim without a lawyers assistance don’t have this information and don’t know how to obtain it.
Insurance companies will not give you this information voluntarily. However, S.C. Code §38-77-250 requires an insurance company to provide either the declarations page or a sworn statement providing the limits of coverage. To obtain this information, you must send a written request satisfying the requirements of S.C. Code §38-77-250. The request must be under oath, setting forth the specific nature of the claim asserted, must state that the requestor has the authority to make such a request and must also enclose a copy of the incident report regarding the claim. Here’s an example:
“Client was injured in an automobile accident with your insured on January 1, 2019. Pursuant to South Carolina Code § 38-77-250(A), I am hereby requesting a copy of your insured’s declaration page or a statement under oath of a corporate officer or the insured’s claims manager stating with regard to each known policy of non-fleet private passenger insurance issued by you, the name of the insurer, the name of each insured and the limits of coverage. I am duly authorized as the claimant’s attorney to make this request and have attached a copy of the pertinent incident report. “
This request MUST be sent via certified mail or statutory overnight delivery. Once received, the insurance company will have 30 days to provide the coverage. Often the response provided by the insurance company is subject to interpretation or incomplete. It is important to have a lawyer who has experience handling insurance claims review this information before entering into any negotiation.
Knowing all the information is key to resolving your claim for the most money possible. Negotiating your injury claim without being fully advised is a gamble that you should never take. If you have been injured in an accident, contact the attorneys of the Gruenloh Law Firm for a free evaluation and learn how much insurance coverage is available in your case.