What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?

Okay, so you know that in theory everyone on the road is supposed to have car insurance as required by the state you live in. Which means that, in theory, every driver on the road should be able to compensate you if they cause an accident that harms your car – and, more importantly, you. But what happens if you’re in a car accident where the other driver is at fault … and they don’t have enough insurance (or, well, any insurance) to pay for your medical bills? That’s where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (a.k.a. UM/UIM coverage) can help you. We’ll explain what it is and why you might want to consider it.

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?

So, the general idea of car insurance is that your liability insurance (the coverage that’s required by law) is intended to provide compensation to others if you are responsible for an accident. Bodily injury liability will help pay for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Property damage liability helps repair or replace the other driver’s car or any other property you might happen to damage. In short, liability insurance is intended to protect other drivers on the road. But not all drivers have it or have enough of it.

You might follow the law and carry the amount of car insurance that’s required by your state. But the problem is that if you only have liability insurance and nothing else, you wouldn’t be covered if another driver hits you but doesn’t have enough insurance to compensate you for your medical bills. Which means that you’d be out of luck – and dealing with some potentially very high medical bills. But as you’ve probably gleaned from what you’ve read so far, uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage can help provide coverage for this type of situation.

(As a quick word of explanation, uninsured motorists do not have insurance at all. They just didn’t purchase an auto insurance policy, so they don’t have coverage. An unsettling statistic is that the Insurance Research Council estimates that 1 in 7 drivers are uninsured. An underinsured motorist doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for all the expenses of an accident. Minimum limits of liability insurance can be quite low, so if the other driver only purchased the minimum amount of coverage required by the state they might not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for a serious accident.)

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What about hit-and-run drivers?

Here’s another scenario:

You’re in an accident and the other driver takes off. Since they didn’t exactly slow down to exchange insurance details and contact information, you have no way of seeking compensation. Hit-and-run drivers fall into the category of uninsured motorists and can be covered by your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. So if you’re ever hit by a driver who flees the scene, you’d be able to get insurance to help you cover your expenses.

How much does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage cost?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is usually fairly inexpensive. It might only cost about 5% of the premium you pay for your car insurance. That expense could be well worth it someday if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all the expenses of the accident they caused.

What’s the point of having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?

Without UI/UIM coverage, you’re paying for car insurance that protects other drivers on the road – not yourself. Like we said, plenty of drivers either don’t have insurance or don’t carry very high limits of insurance. Uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage can help you protect yourself and your family if you’re ever in an accident and the other driver can’t compensate you for all of the expenses you incur.

Am I required to have UI/UIM coverage?

That depends on your state. It’s important to make sure that you’re aware of the insurance requirements for your state and that you have enough coverage to meet them. (Also, be aware of the limit of coverage you’re purchasing and make sure that you have enough to fully protect yourself – the limit required by your state might not be very high.)

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There are a lot of car insurance coverages out there, but that’s the deal with UM/UIM coverage. It can help protect you if you’re ever hit by a driver who does not have insurance or who does not have high enough limits of insurance to cover all of the costs of the accident. If you were to only carry liability insurance with no other coverages, you wouldn’t be compensated by your own insurance in that sort of scenario. Which is why it’s worth considering uninsured/underinsured coverage.

We can help you get quotes for car insurance and UM/UIM coverage. We enjoy making insurance as easy as possible, and we can also help you save money on car insurance. If you want to get started with your quotes, all you have to do is fill out our online quote form or give us a call today.