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What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage or underinsured motorist coverage are liability coverages. However, rather than provide protection for your liabilities while driving, it protects you if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance or doesn’t have enough liability coverage for the damages they have caused. In some states, like Arizona, these coverages are sold together, but in others, they are sold separately. Regardless, most states make them mandatory and both are highly recommended for reasons you’ll learn below. If you’re a victim of a hit and run accident, you can file a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage.

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

Most states make uninsured motorist insurance coverage mandatory. However, if the coverage is not mandatory, or if your state’s regulations allow you to formally reject the coverage, you may be taking a big risk.

Each time you take the road, you are surrounded by uninsured drivers. In fact, research by the Insurance Information Institute estimates that approximately  13% of drivers countrywide don’t have auto insurance. These figures vary greatly from state to state, and in some states, the uninsured rate is as high as 20%.

If you choose to drive without uninsured motorist insurance coverage and you have an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, your injury or property damage expenses will likely get paid out of your wallet.

In the event you discover the other driver is uninsured, you certainly can file a claim against your own policy. However, you will likely still be responsible for paying your collision deductible and may not have enough medical payments/personal injury protection to cover injuries caused to you or your passengers. And if you have lost wages due to your injuries or other non-injury expenses, you will not have a predictable means like insurance coverage to recover those expenses, rather you’ll be left seeking them directly from the other party. That same person who didn’t have the money or the sense to purchase car insurance.

So, what does uninsured motorist insurance cover?

How this coverage works is basically in the name. Uninsured motorist insurance coverage and underinsured motorist provides coverage for your injuries, your passengers’ injuries, and damage to your vehicle if an uninsured motorist or a driver without enough coverage is at fault when they hit you. Depending on your state, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance may be separate, combined, or consist of up to four coverages:

If you’re hit by a driver with no insurance, this is the basic coverage afforded by uninsured motorist:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) pays medical bills for both you and your passengers
  • Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) pays for damage to your vehicle

When you are in an accident with a driver without enough insurance, these are the basic coverages:

  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) pays medical bills for both you and your passengers
  • Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) pays for damage to your vehicle

Does uninsured motorist insurance cover hit-and-run accidents?

This may be different from state to state and between different insurance companies. Some insurance companies, like Progressive, file a claim against your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage if a driver hits you and flees. While others will allow you to file the claim but may require you to demonstrate that the driver was, in fact, uninsured. In nearly all instances you will be required to file a police report as part of the process, so do that first.

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

Having health insurance shouldn’t be a determinant of uninsured motorist insurance coverage. Sure, your health insurance may overlap with some uninsured motorist coverage benefits. But there are also benefits in uninsured motorist coverage that aren’t contained in health insurance. If you are considering rejecting uninsured motorist coverage, you have a formal way to reject the coverage. Before you do, however, these are the things you need to consider first:

  • Will your health insurance cover injuries sustained in an auto accident? Medicare and Medicaid may not pay out until other sources of insurance have been exhausted. If you have private health insurance, check with your health insurer to find out how medical expenses resulting from a car accident are covered.
  • Does your health insurance have a deductible? Generally, there’s no deductible with UMBI and UIMBI. If you have a deductible with your health insurance, and it’s high, it may be beneficial to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist protection.
  • Will there be passengers in your car that don’t have their own health insurance? Your uninsured motorist coverage will protect your passengers, even those who don’t have health insurance coverage.
  • Does your health insurance cover lost wages? Your uninsured motorist protection likely will pay for wage loss, and may also provide coverage for other non-medical expenses not protected under some health insurance plans.

How much uninsured motorist coverage do I need?

In most states, you have to match the bodily injury portion of the uninsured motorist limit to your selected liability limits. In this way, you are protecting yourself as well as you elect to protect others. If you have the option, you should always match your liability selected limits. You may have the option to select the limits for uninsured motorist property damage, so make sure you select the amount that will repair or replace your car.


If you have selected bodily injury limits of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, consider choosing the same limits for uninsured motorist protection. Therefore, if you’re hit by an uninsured driver, each injured passenger (including the driver) can collect up to $100,000. If two passengers collect the full $100,000, then they can easily be covered by your per-accident limit of $300,000.

Your uninsured motorist property damage limit will be a bit easier to determine the proper amount. You simply select a limit that reflects the value of your car. If your car is worth $40,000, and you don’t carry collision coverage, then you should consider that much in uninsured motorist property damage coverage.

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