Do You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Last Updated on May 10, 2020
Uninsured motorist coverage covers certain damage if you collide with a motorist who doesn’t have insurance.
In certain states, uninsured motorist coverage is required by law. In other states, uninsured motorist coverage is not required, although it may still be recommended.
In this article, we’re explaining everything you need to know about whether or not you need uninsured motorist coverage.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage, sometimes abbreviated as “UM”, is a type of car insurance coverage that protects you after a collision with a motorist without insurance.
1 in 7 drivers in America has no car insurance. In some states, nearly 1 in 5 drivers have no car insurance. That means if you get into an accident, there’s a fair chance that the other driver has no insurance.
Uninsured motorist coverage can also apply when the other motorist is unknown – say, during a hit-and-run situation.
Uninsured motorist coverage is frequently paired with underinsured motorist coverage. The two coverages might be abbreviated to “UM/UIM” on insurance policy documentation.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, or UMBI, is a crucial part of uninsured motorist coverage. It covers certain medical expenses for you and your passengers after an incident with an uninsured motorist.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage, or UMPD, is the other major part of uninsured motorist coverage. It covers damage to your vehicle after a collision with an uninsured motorist.
When to Use Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You would use uninsured motorist coverage if:
- You or your passengers are hurt in a crash caused by an uninsured driver
- You or your passengers are hurt in a crash caused by an underinsured driver (i.e. the other driver had insurance but there wasn’t enough coverage for you and your passengers’ injuries)
- Your vehicle was damaged during a hit-and-run
- You or your passengers were injured during a hit-and-run
Not all car insurance policies allow you to make a claim for bodily injury coverage after a hit-and-run. Some insurers allow you to make a claim under your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI), but it’s not guaranteed.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cover?
Uninsured motorist coverage covers medical bills for you or your passengers if you or your passengers are injured after a collision with an uninsured motorist. You or your passengers may also be reimbursed for lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages incurred as a result of the collision with the uninsured motorist.
Uninsured motorist coverage also covers damage to your own vehicle. If an uninsured motorist strikes your vehicle at the intersection and causes $10,000 of damage, then your uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD) will reimburse you for this damage.
You may have to pay a deductible when making a claim under your uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD), although you will not have to pay a deductible for your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI).
Health Insurance Can Also Cover Medical Treatment After an Accident
When considering whether or not to get uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll want to consider your existing health insurance options. Health insurance will pay for medical treatment after an accident. However, if the at-fault driver has auto insurance and you receive any reimbursement for injuries, then your health insurance provider may demand a portion of that reimbursement.
If you already have a good health insurance plan, and uninsured motorist coverage is not required in your state, then you might be okay with dropping uninsured motorist coverage.
Where is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required?
Drivers in certain states are required to have uninsured motorist coverage. Some of these states require you to have uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, while others require uninsured motorist property damage coverage as well.
19 states in America (plus the District of Columbia) require some type of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, including:
- Connecticut: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- District of Columbia: Uninsured motorist coverage required
- Illinois: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Kentucky: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Maine: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Maryland: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Minnesota: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Missouri: Uninsured motorist coverage required
- Nebraska: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- New Jersey: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- New York: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- North Carolina: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- North Dakota: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Oregon: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- South Carolina: Uninsured motorist coverage required
- South Dakota: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Vermont: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Virginia: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- West Virginia: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage required
- Wisconsin: Uninsured motorist coverage required
If you buy car insurance in any of these states, then your car insurance will always match the minimum legal requirements. In other words, if you purchased car insurance in West Virginia, then your car insurance policy has uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage automatically.
Similarly, if you drive into a state that requires uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, then your car insurance will automatically match those limits. If you live in Washington (where UM/UIM is not required) and regularly drive into Oregon (where UM/UIM is required), for example, then your car insurance will have UM/UIM coverage when driving in Oregon.
Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If you live in any of the states listed above, then uninsured motorist coverage is required by law, and you already have uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy.
However, if you live in other states, then it’s up to you to decide whether uninsured motorist coverage is worth it.
Consider this: countrywide, there’s a 1 in 7 chance that your next collision will be with an uninsured motorist. In some states, 20-25% of drivers do not have car insurance. That means in any accident, there’s a reasonable chance you will be colliding with someone who does not have car insurance.
As with any car insurance question, it comes down to risk aversion: are you willing to pay a little extra per month for a lot less risk? Or do you want to save money and absorb more risk?
What Happens If I Don’t Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage and you live in one of the 19 states where it’s required, then you are driving without sufficient insurance, and you may face further insurance penalties. However, any car insurance policies sold in these states will automatically come with uninsured motorist coverage.
In states where UM is not required, then you could face significant issues during a collision with an uninsured motorist.
If someone hits your vehicle and does not have insurance, then that person is still liable for any damage caused (including your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, car damage, etc.). You can sue the uninsured driver to receive compensation for these damages. However, typically, people who drive without insurance do not have many assets to seize in a lawsuit, which means you may not receive full compensation for your losses.
If someone hits your vehicle and causes injuries to you and your passengers, then you may be able to make a claim under each individual’s health insurance policy. Health insurance should cover medical bills from the accident.
If your vehicle is damaged during a hit-and-run and the driver is unknown, then you should be able to make a claim under your collision coverage. You pay your deductible, then your car insurance policy covers the cost of repairing your vehicle.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Worth It?
It’s difficult to answer this question. The answer will vary based on everyone’s unique budget, aversion to risk, and financial situation.
If you drive a luxury vehicle, for example, then even a minor accident could cause tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your vehicle, and it may be difficult to absorb this cost out of pocket.
Or, if you consider yourself risk-averse, then you may be willing to pay a few extra dollars per month for the added peace of mind of uninsured motorist coverage.
As with other car insurance questions, it comes down to your personal needs and budget.
How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cost?
The cost of uninsured motorist coverage varies widely based on many factors.
In many states and with many insurance companies, however, uninsured motorist coverage just costs an extra few dollars per month.
Compare car insurance quotes online today to make sure you’re paying fair value for uninsured motorist coverage in your state.
How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?
Some states have specific limits for uninsured motorist coverage. They require you to have a specific amount of uninsured motorist coverage. You can meet or exceed that limit.
Other states have no specific limits, in which case you can choose how much coverage you need.
Typically, insurance experts recommend having your uninsured motorist limits match your liability limits. Experts also recommend keeping liability limits at 100/300, which works out to:
- $100,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $300,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage per accident
For uninsured motorist property damage coverage, meanwhile, you should consider the value of your vehicle. If you drive an inexpensive vehicle, for example, then you may not need much property damage coverage. If you drive a high-end vehicle, then you might need $100,000 of coverage or more.
Millions of drivers in the United States have no insurance whatsoever. In Oklahoma, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Michigan, Tennessee, and Alabama, for example, approximately 1 in 5 drivers have no car insurance.
Whether you live in a state with high rates of uninsured driving or you want added peace of mind, uninsured motorist car insurance may be the right choice for you.