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Named driver does not equal insured under auto insurance policy

The South Carolina Supreme Court confirmed in the Bell case that there is a huge difference between an insured and a listed driver.

A car wreck injured Bell. Bell was a passenger. His injuries, harms and losses exceed the coverage of the man who caused the wreck. Bell sought coverage under a policy his fiancee had and he was a listed driver, he sought to collect underinsured insurance coverage (UIM).

UIM protects one if the person who caused the wreck does not have enough insurance to pay for the losses and harms caused by the wreck. UIM is the way you can protect yourself (and certain others) against someone else not having enough insurance coverage.

UIM insures the named insured, resident spouses of the insured, resident relatives of the insured and guest passengers in an insured vehicle. Much ink has been spilled discussing who is insured when the injured person is not a named insured.

Bell was not a named insured, was not a resident spouse and was not a resident relative (recall fiancee only). He was listed only as a driver - that was it. This was not enough to get to UIM coverage.

This case is really narrow in scope in that most times injured people claiming UIM proceeds will fall into the categories for coverage. However, this case stands for the proposition that a named driver is not elevated to the status of a named insured just because his name appears as a "driver." If you are going to pay for UIM coverage - which you should - then be a named insured.

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