Uninsured Motorist Coverage

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Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: October 26, 2021

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Most auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage, but it’s essential to know how much coverage you have. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance. It also saves you if the driver does not have enough auto insurance to cover the damage to your vehicle or your injuries. However, the cheapest auto policies likely don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, so be careful what you buy as it could wind up costing you thousands of dollars in the long run.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

The primary purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to protect you financially should you ever be involved in a crash with a motorist who does not have automotive insurance. This type of coverage can help pay for the damage to your vehicle or your medical bills if you suffer an injury.

Uninsured (and underinsured) motorist coverage is protection built into an existing auto insurance policy against other drivers who don’t have insurance. This will protect you financially in the event you get into an accident with or otherwise have your vehicle damaged by a motorist who does not have insurance.

Best Car Insurance Providers

Understanding uninsured motorist coverage allows you to know how much you are protected when in an accident with an uninsured motorist. There’s no worse feeling after being in an accident than hearing the other driver tell you they don’t have insurance or don’t have enough insurance to cover the claim. Below you will find a list of Benzinga’s best car insurance carriers for uninsured motorist coverage:

  • Allstate
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    SR-22 Insurance
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    securely through Allstate's website
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  • The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford
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    SR-22 Insurance
    Yes
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    securely through The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford's website
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  • Progressive
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    Yes
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    More Details
  • AAA
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    Best For
    Roadside assistance
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    securely through AAA's website
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Do You Need Extra Coverage?

Uninsured motorists are all over the place, and you can’t know whether someone has insurance or not. For that reason, your insurance company usually just adds this part of the policy — the state requires it. Even if you have an accident and the other driver is forthcoming with insurance information, they might be lying, and you need something that pays for this specific problem.

The Insurance Research Council says that 1 in 8 drivers is uninsured. Yikes! The report detailed the states with the highest rate of uninsured drivers, and Florida topped the list at 26.7%. Florida was followed by Mississippi, New Mexico, Michigan and Tennessee. Maine has the lowest rate of uninsured motorists in the country with 4.5%.

Do States Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Yes. Most states have mandates for uninsured motorist coverage and uninsured drivers. However, the amount you have depends on your specific policy. You can review it or go over it with your agent.

Plus, the mandates differ. There’s coverage for bodily injury, and there’s coverage for property damage. What if your state requires one and not the other? You could be stuck with massive bills from an accident.

Additionally, you can’t just go with the lowest amount to save money. You could end up paying an exorbitant amount if you have very little coverage. Use common sense and ask questions when you speak with an insurance agent, and don’t default to the lowest coverage level just to meet the state’s required coverage amount.

The states that require uninsured motorist coverage include the following:

  • Maine
  • New Hampshire (if car insurance is purchased)
  • Vermont
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia (if car insurance is purchased)
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Oregon

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Some people get this coverage confused with uninsured coverage. Underinsured coverage is an add-on to your auto policy on top of uninsured coverage. Underinsured coverage helps you pay for damage or medical bills when the other driver’s policy limits do not cover the entire cost of the accident.

You might forgo this part of the policy to save money. Ask your agent and see how much coverage you can get before finding out the other driver’s insurance carrier can’t help you all that much.

What Does Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Cover?

When you, a passenger or another member of your household is injured in a car accident with an uninsured motorist, uninsured motorist coverage will pay for the damages and injuries suffered. Underinsured motorist coverage pays the difference when a driver does not have enough coverage from an auto policy to cover the crash cost. You have 4 options when choosing uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This coverage pays medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and burial costs from an accident with an uninsured driver. Check your policy because it might also cover injuries when hit while walking or riding a bike.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI): This coverage pays for the same expenses as a UMBI policy but for an accident caused by a motorist who does not have enough coverage from a policy.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): This coverage pays for damage to your vehicle or your property that was caused in an accident by an uninsured motorist. You might have to pay a deductible before this coverage activates.
  • Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD): This coverage pays for the same items as UMPD if involved in an accident with an underinsured motorist so long as you pay the deductible first.

How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cost?

For the most part, uninsured motorist coverage will not cost more than your overall premium. However, the cost could vary based on the state where you live and how high a percentage of total drivers are uninsured.

Can You Stack Coverage?

Depending on the state where you live, you might have the option to stack uninsured motorist coverage. Some insurance companies allow you to combine limits of uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury for multiple cars for an additional fee. You can accomplish this goal across 1 policy or multiple policies, so long as they are all in the same name.

To better understand this, consider the following example:

You own 3 vehicles, and all are on the same auto insurance policy, each with $50,000 of uninsured motorist property damage limits; you can stack the limits. If you are involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, the damage would be covered up to $150,000 or the limitation of the policy with the coverages stacked together. All 3 vehicles don’t have to be involved in accidents simultaneously with the uninsured driver to receive the $150,000 coverage limit.

Conduct a Thorough Review of Your Auto Insurance Policy

While you will likely find this insurance in your policy because the state requires it, you need to make sure you have enough coverage for a pretty big accident. Be sure to review your auto insurance policy thoroughly before signing it or if you have questions about uninsured motorist coverage right now. The declarations page should answer most of your questions. If not, be sure to reach out to your insurance broker or insurance agency for more information. Come back to Benzinga for more information on insurance and money matters at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions & Answers

Q
What does uninsured motorist coverage pay for?
A

This part of your policy pays for damages and losses when the other driver is not insured. Yes, the other driver will get a ticket and potentially pay big fines, but they can’t just fix your car.

Q
What happens if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage?
A

You have to get your money back in court because you might have a lot of expenses that your insurance can cover, but it’s going to cost you the deductible and potentially max out your policy. At that point, you might as well let your insurance company pay and go to court. With this addendum, you can just use that coverage to cover the accident.