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What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

What happens if you’re hit by an uninsured driver? The latest research suggests that about one in eight drivers doesn’t have any insurance, despite it being legally required.

Luckily, to help protect you from an incident such as this, many insurance companies offer uninsured motorist coverage, which can help pay for your medical expenses and personal property damage.

But what is uninsured motorist coverage, and what does it do? Keep reading to find out.

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage helps financially protect you should you get into an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry basic liability auto insurance. Essentially, it is liability insurance for the other driver.

You may have heard of underinsured motorist coverage, but it’s technically not the same, even though there are similarities. With underinsured motorist coverage, the other driver still needs to be at fault, but he or she still has some liability insurance. It’s just not enough to cover your medical and property damage costs.

With uninsured motorist coverage, the driver doesn’t have any insurance to pay for any damages, leaving the injured party with few options. 

What does uninsured motorist policy cover?

An uninsured motorist policy pays for everything that would normally be paid for by the other person’s liability policy. This means with an uninsured motorist policy, you get bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage. The policy limits vary depending on which package you choose. 

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage

Any medical bills associated with the car accident (including from the emergency room, intensive care and physical therapy) will be covered by your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. Plus, usually everyone in the car is protected too. Lastly, should you miss work because of the accident, bodily injury coverage includes any lost wages. 

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage isn’t available in all states. If it is available in your state, this type of coverage will help pay for the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged car. 

Underinsured motorist coverage

Some states require underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured is needed when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your medical expenses and property damage repairs. The good thing is that it’s sometimes possible to bundle uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage together.

What does an uninsured motorist policy not cover?

First, an uninsured motorist policy is only useful if you are not at fault in an accident.

Secondly, depending on your insurance policy, it may not work if the driver is simply underinsured. Though some states do bundle these policies together, not all do. Therefore, if the underinsured driver’s insurance isn’t able to cover all of your medical costs, you may be responsible for the rest.

Thirdly, your policy may not cover the medical expenses of everyone else in your car at the time of the accident. Many do, but you will want to ensure that it does by thoroughly reading through your policy or speaking to an agent.

Lastly, uninsured motorist property damage coverage only applies to your car. If an uninsured driver crashes into your home, it will be your homeowners insurance that will cover the damages (assuming there aren’t any exclusions). 

What states require uninsured motorist coverage

The states that typically require uninsured motorist coverage are typically tort states, which are the opposite of no-fault states. In a tort state, it is the at-fault driver’s responsibility to pay for any damages. However, many states also require uninsured motorist coverage in addition to liability.

The states that require UIM coverage are:

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

If you have collision insurance, it’s possible you don’t need uninsured motorist coverage. Collision coverage protects you regardless of whether there is another driver involved. You can hit a tree and still be covered with collision coverage. If there is another driver, it doesn’t matter who is at fault.

You should strongly consider purchasing uninsured motorist coverage even if your state doesn’t require it. Suing the at-fault driver is always an option, but that rarely makes sense. If the person doesn’t have any assets, you’re not going to get much out of taking them to court.

The cost of uninsured motorist coverage

The cost uninsured motorist coverage varies by state, providers and coverage amount. However, it isn’t expensive. The Hanover Insurance Group, for example, only charges $67 a year for uninsured motorist coverage. That’s only $5.58 a month. Considering the cost you would pay if you didn’t have it, it’s an affordable insurance option.

We think a less worrisome driving experience is worth just about any price. However, if you’re on the fence, look at your state’s uninsured motorists statistics. If your state has a high amount of uninsured motorists, strongly consider adding uninsured motorist coverage to your budget. Some states are a lot more than one in eight. For example, in Florida 26.7 percent of drivers don’t have insurance, and in Mississippi 23.7 percent don’t.

The takeaway

  • An accident with an uninsured motorist can financially devastate you.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage is affordable for most budgets.
  • Uninsured motorist insurance comes with bodily injury coverage and property protection.
  • This type of insurance may not be necessary if you have collision coverage.

Uninsured motorist insurance financially protects you from drivers who don’t have any insurance. Should they be at-fault in an accident with you, your uninsured coverage will kick in to cover your medical costs and any needed repairs to your car or help replace it if necessary.

Regardless of how new your car is or how big your family is, uninsured motorist coverage has the ability to save you thousands of dollars in the long run. It’s an additional expense, but one that could well be worth it.

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward is a writer for Coverage.com. She specializes in all things personal finance, including insurance, loans, and real estate.

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