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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Do You Need It?

By February 24, 2020 Personal Insurance

Laws in nearly every state require motorists to carry car insurance, but many people take their chances and drive without coverage. How many? According to an Insurance Research Council study, an estimated one in eight motorists in 2012 was driving without insurance. That’s a national average, and in some states as many as one in four are uninsured.

If you’re involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you could be left holding the bag. Even if the other driver carries insurance, he or she may be underinsured, with coverage limits not high enough to pay for all the costs of a serious accident. Look at the minimum level of liability coverage required in your state, it may be a lot less than you think.

You can protect yourself from these drivers by buying insurance especially for this purpose, called uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).

Laws in nearly every state require motorists to carry car insurance, but many people take their chances and drive without coverage. How many? According to an Insurance Research Council study, an estimated one in eight motorists in 2012 was driving without insurance. That’s a national average, and in some states as many as one in four are uninsured.

If you’re involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you could be left holding the bag. Even if the other driver carries insurance, he or she may be underinsured, with coverage limits not high enough to pay for all the costs of a serious accident. Look at the minimum level of liability coverage required in your state, it may be a lot less than you think.

You can protect yourself from these drivers by buying insurance especially for this purpose, called uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).

How Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Works

In case of an accident caused by a driver without insurance, a UM motorist policy replaces the liability coverage that driver should have had and gives you coverage for all of your costs, up to your policy’s limits. If an underinsured driver is responsible, a UIM policy fills the gap between what the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay and the total cost of the accident, up to the policy’s limits.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be purchased to cover bodily injuries (sometimes called UMBI), and in some states it’s also available to cover property damage (sometimes called UMPD).

Here’s one way to look at it: UM/UIM works just like your liability bodily injury and property damage coverage and is sold the same way, with coverage limits you select. But instead of buying insurance to protect other drivers from damage you cause, you’re buying insurance to protect yourself from damage caused by other drivers.

Uninsured/underinsured bodily injury insurance covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income and funeral costs for you and all passengers in your car. You also get the same bodily injury coverage after a hit-and-run accident.

Property damage coverage will pay for auto repairs, and it can also pay for damage to other property like a fence that has been run over by an uninsured driver. Some uninsured/underinsured property damage policies will come with a deductible that you would be responsible for before your coverage begins.

State Requirements

Almost half of the states require at least some form of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Others require that the coverage be offered and that you actively decline UM/UIM coverage in writing if you do not want this type of insurance. If you live in a state where UM/UIM is not required, you may still have the option to purchase this insurance; however, not all types of coverage are available in every state.
The table below shows the minimum coverage required in each state.

States Where Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Is Required
StateUninsured Coverage Required?Underinsured Coverage Required?
AlabamaNoNo
AlaskaNoNo
ArizonaNoNo
ArkansasNoNo
CaliforniaNoNo
ColoradoNoNo
ConnecticutYes, Bodily Injury at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
DelawareNoNo
District of ColumbiaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property Damage at $5,000, subject to $200 deductibleNo
FloridaNoNo
GeorgiaNoNo
HawaiiNoNo
IdahoNoNo
IllinoisYes, Bodily Injury at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accidentNo
IndianaNoNo
IowaNoNo
KansasYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
KentuckyNoNo
LouisianaNoNo
MaineYes, Bodily Injury at $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident
MarylandYes, Bodily Injury at $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and Property Damage at $15,000Yes, Bodily Injury at $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and Property Damage at $15,000
MassachusettsYes, Bodily Injury at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accidentNo
MichiganNoNo
MinnesotaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
MississippiNoNo
MissouriYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentNo
MontanaNoNo
NebraskaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
NevadaNoNo
New HampshireYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
New JerseyYes, Bodily Injury at $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident and Property Damage at $5,000Yes, Bodily Injury at $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident and Property Damage at $5,000
New MexicoNoNo
New YorkYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
North CarolinaYes, Bodily Injury at $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and Property Damage at $25,000Yes, Bodily Injury at $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident
North DakotaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
OhioNoNo
OklahomaNoNo
OregonYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
PennsylvaniaNoNo
Rhode IslandNoNo
South CarolinaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property Damage at $25,000 with $200 deductibleNo
South DakotaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
TennesseeNoNo
TexasNoNo
UtahNoNo
VermontYes, Bodily Injury at $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and Property Damage at $10,000 with $150 deductibleYes, Bodily Injury at $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and Property Damage at $10,000 with $150 deductible
VirginiaYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property Damage at $20,000 with $200 deductibleYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property Damage at $20,000 with $200 deductible
WashingtonNoNo
West VirginiaYes, Bodily Injury at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident and Property Damage at $10,000 for property damageNo
WisconsinYes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accidentNo
WyomingNoNo