The Truth About Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage helps protect you and your vehicle from financial losses if there is a car accident caused by someone who doesn’t have auto insurance. The two types of uninsured motorist coverage are uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) and uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD). This is different from underinsured motorist protection which is only used if the person causing the accident doesn’t have adequate insurance to cover your losses.

Uninsured motorist insurance is required in several states. Keep reading to learn how this coverage works, whether you need it and how to file a claim when you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver.

What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage provides financial protection should you be in an accident caused by someone who does not have auto insurance. There are two kinds of uninsured motorist coverage. One is uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) and the other is uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD).

UMBI provides financial protection for physical injury if you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have auto insurance.

UMBI will cover the physical damages you would normally be paid from an insured driver. Hit-and-run drivers are also classified as uninsured motorists, and your insurance will cover damages even if you don’t know who hit your car. UMBI will help cover your medical expenses and lost wages. UMBI will also apply to damages for pain and suffering, meaning your insurance company provides coverage for emotional and psychological treatment up to your policy’s limit. This protection extends to relatives who live in your household and passengers who were injured by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver while in your vehicle. It also affords protection outside the vehicle if you were injured as a pedestrian.

If you’re in a car accident caused by someone without insurance, and you don't have collision coverage as part of your auto policy, UMPD applies to your costs for fixing the car’s damage. If you don’t have uninsured motorist protection or collision coverage, you may have to pursue payment for your damages through the courts but chances are that the uninsured driver does not have the means to pay for the accident.

How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?

If you are the victim of a car accident, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for the losses you incur. This can include medical bills and property that was damaged during the accident. If the other driver doesn’t have car insurance, you’ll be left covering some or all of the costs on your own.

Uninsured motorist coverage is broken up into two parts:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury liability (UMBI)

UMBI provides financial protection for physical injury if you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have auto insurance. This includes accidents caused by hit-and-run drivers.

  • Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD)

UMPD provides financial protection for your vehicle if you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have auto insurance.

What Happens if You Don’t Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you will likely be paying out-of-pocket for any damages you may incur due to someone else’s actions on the road. Uninsured motorist coverage provides financial protection for your medical and vehicle repair costs when someone who doesn’t have insurance causes an accident. This coverage takes effect when another party causes damage to you or your vehicle and they don’t have insurance coverage to pay your bills. Without this coverage, you could have to pay:

  • Medical expenses caused by injuries sustained from the accident
  • Lost income due to an inability to work
  • Funeral costs if there was a fatality
  • Treating emotional and psychological issues that have resulted due to the accident

What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage pays for the difference between your UIM limits and the insured driver’s liability limits. An underinsured driver is a driver who was liable for a car accident and has auto insurance, but does not have enough coverage to fully pay for the other person’s injuries or damages.

Is It Required?

UIM insurance is required in the following 17 states:

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire*
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island**
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia***

How Does Underinsured Motorist Coverage Work?

UIM coverage steps in when you get into an accident and the at-fault driver’s liability limits are insufficient for covering your losses.

For example, let’s say you get into a car accident. You have $30,000 in UIM coverage and the liable driver has $20,000 in liability insurance. Your losses total $30,000. After claiming the full $20,000 from the liable driver’s policy, your UIM coverage will cover the remaining $10,000.

In some states, UI and UIM coverage are packaged together as a single insurance product. In other states, they may be purchasable as separate coverages.

How Much Does Underinsured Motorist Insurance Cost?

According to the Insurance Research Council, insured drivers paid, on average, about $78 per vehicle for UM/UIM coverage in 2016. Rates will vary by company and state. If UM/UIM coverage is bundled together, insurance companies will likely charge higher rates if your state has a higher percentage of uninsured drivers.

For example, nearly 30% of Mississippi drivers are uninsured according to the Insurance Research Council. UM/UIM will likely cost more in Mississippi than in New Jersey, where only 3.1% of drivers are uninsured.

Uninsured vs. Underinsured Motorist Coverage

UI and UIM insurance both provide financial protection when the at-fault driver in a car accident lacks coverage but only one coverage type applies depending on the scenario.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Pays for your losses if the at-fault driver does not have any insurance

Pays for your losses if the at-fault driver has insurance but their limits are too low to cover your losses

What Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Pay For?

Uninsured motorist insurance covers injuries to you and your passengers as well as damage to your vehicle if you're hit by a driver who doesn't have auto insurance coverage. Uninsured motorist insurance can cover the following:

  • Medical expenses caused by injuries sustained from the accident
  • Lost income due to an inability to work
  • Funeral costs if there was a fatality
  • Treating emotional and psychological issues that have resulted due to the accident

Some states may require a deductible for uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD). Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) generally doesn't include a deductible.

UMPD provides financial protection for your vehicle if you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have auto insurance.

Which States Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

There are many states that require uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI). A smaller number of states require uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD). Below is a table breaking down what the state requirements are regarding uninsured motorist coverage:

Location

Requires uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI)?

Requires uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD)?

Connecticut

✖️

 

Illinois

✖️

 

Kansas

✖️

 

Maine

✖️

 

Maryland

✖️

✖️

Massachusetts

✖️

 

Minnesota

✖️

 

Missouri

✖️

 

Nebraska

✖️

 

New Jersey

✖️

✖️

New Hampshire*

✖️

✖️

New York

✖️

 

North Carolina

✖️

✖️

North Dakota

✖️

 

Oregon

✖️

 

Rhode Island**

✖️

✖️

South Carolina

✖️

✖️

South Dakota

✖️

 

Vermont

✖️

✖️

Virginia***

✖️

✖️

West Virginia

✖️

✖️

Wisconsin

✖️

 

The District of Columbia requires both forms of uninsured motorist coverage as well.

*New Hampshire residents are not required to have auto insurance. However, for those who do purchase auto insurance, UMBI is required.

**Rhode Island residents are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage if they have the minimum state liability coverage. However, those who buy higher liability limits are required to purchase UMBI as well.

***Virginia residents are not required to have auto insurance if they can prove they can cover the losses from an accident. However, residents who purchase auto insurance are required to have uninsured motorist as well as underinsured motorist coverage.

Need Coverage Protection from Uninsured Drivers?

5 States With the Most Uninsured Drivers

  1. 29.4% of Mississippi drivers are uninsured.
  2. 25.5% of Michigan drivers are uninsured.
  3. 23.7% of Tennessee drivers are uninsured.
  4. 21.8% of drivers in New Mexico are uninsured.
  5. 21.7% of drivers in Washington are uninsured.

*Data collected from the estimated percentage of uninsured drivers in 2019 by the Insurance Research Council.

Stacking Your Coverage

If you have UI/UIM coverage and own more than one car, you can potentially stack your coverage by multiplying your limit by the number of cars insured. This can be done for vehicles on the same policy or cars insured on different policies depending on your state’s laws.

For instance, let’s say your uninsured motorist limits are $25,000/$50,000 and you add a second vehicle to your policy. If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, you can potentially increase your limits to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total in that accident.

Stacking is not available in all states.

How To Make an Uninsured Motorist Claim

File a claim with your provider if you were in an accident caused by someone who doesn't have insurance.

Call the Police

You should call 911 if there was a car accident. This is especially important if someone is injured.

Collect Information

You will always want to obtain contact information for the at-fault driver as well as any passengers involved in the car accident. Make sure you get:

  • Name, home address and contact information (phone or email)
  • Their vehicle's make, model, license plate number and state
  • Names of any passengers

Also, check to see if there are any witnesses who saw the accident. If there are, try and get their contact information as well. You should also give the at-fault driver your contact information.

Take Pictures of the Damage

Take pictures of any damage that incurred. This includes damage to your vehicle and yourself. Also, be sure to take images of the other person’s vehicle. It may also be helpful to take pictures of the surrounding area to show context for the accident or any other damage that may have been caused.

File a Police Report

Make sure you give a statement to the police. Once you get a copy of the police report, submit it along with your claim to your insurance carrier.

Call Your Car Insurance Agent

Call your insurance company and let them know what has happened. Do this as soon as possible. The timeframe to file a claim varies from one provider to another but can be as short as 24 hours.

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Needed For Property Damage?

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD) is required in six states and the District of Columbia. The six states that require UMPD are listed in the table below.

States Requiring UMPD

Maryland

New Jersey

North Carolina

South Carolina

Vermont

West Virginia

UMPD is optional in 18 other states as well. States with optional coverage are listed in the table below.

If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you will likely be paying out-of-pocket for any damages and injuries.

States Offering Optional UMPD

Alaska

Arkansas

California

Delaware

Georgia

Indiana

Illinois

Louisiana

Mississippi

New Jersey

New Mexico

Ohio

Rhode Island

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Washington

Wyoming

Uninsured Motorist Coverage FAQs

Is uninsured motorist coverage necessary?

Uninsured motorist coverage is required in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Are hit-and-run accidents covered by UM?

Yes, hit-and-run accidents are covered by uninsured motorist coverage.

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage if I have health insurance?

If you live in one of the 19 states that require uninsured motorist coverage, including the District of Columbia, then you will need to have uninsured motorist coverage even if you have health coverage.

Key Takeaways

  1. Uninsured motorist coverage provides financial protection from bodily injury or property damage caused by a vehicle-related accident wherein the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance.
  2. Underinsured motorist coverage differs from uninsured motorist coverage in that underinsured motorist coverage helps provide protection should you be in an accident caused by someone who has inadequate insurance to cover the damages they caused.
  3. There are 19 states, including the District of Columbia, that require uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI). They are Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
  4. There are six states, including the District of Columbia that require uninsured property protection coverage (UMPD). They are Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia.
  5. You can file an uninsured motorist claim by contacting your insurance company and providing photographs of the damage, information about anyone involved in the accident, witness statements and a police report of the accident.

Get protection against uninsured motorists. Enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive your free auto insurance quotes.

Sources:

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.