What is uninsured motorist coverage? (Guide 2022)


If you’re in a car accident with a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance (or is a hit-and-run driver), uninsured motorist coverage can prevent you from paying out of pocket for damages or medical expenses.

Our research team has taken a look at uninsured motorist insurance to help you understand what it is, how it works and what it covers. We also reviewed the best car insurance companies, so if you’re looking to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy, you’ll have a good idea of ​​where to start.

What does uninsured motorist insurance cover?

Uninsured motorist coverage, often referred to as UM insurance, helps pay for your repair and medical costs when a driver who doesn’t have car insurance causes a car accident. If an uninsured party causes property damage or personal injury, UM covers the costs associated with that damage.

Types of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

There are two main types of uninsured motorist insurance coverage: uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (UMBI)

This covers medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering expenses for you and your passengers after a car accident.

UMBI generally has two limits: the maximum amount it will pay per person and the total injury coverage per accident. For example, if you have an UMBI 50/100 policy, your insurer would pay $50,000 per person and a maximum total of $100,000 per accident.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage (UMPD)

If someone without insurance causes a car accident, this coverage pays for the cost of repairing your car or other property. In most states, the UMPD can be used to pay damages after a hit-and-run accident.

How much does uninsured motorist coverage cost?

On average, coverage for uninsured motorists costs significantly less than standard automobile liability insurance. The cost of UM fluctuates with the number of uninsured drivers in a state, so the lower that number, the less coverage will cost you. In many states, adding UM to your existing auto insurance policy may only add $60 to $120 to your annual insurance premium, or $5 to $10 per month.

What is underinsured motorist coverage?

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage covers your injuries and damages, as well as those of your passengers, resulting from an accident with a driver who does not have sufficient insurance. If you are involved in a car accident and the driver at fault does not have sufficient liability coverage to pay medical expenses for you and your passengers, UIM kicks in. This coverage also has limits per person and by accident.

The two main types of underinsured motorist insurance are:

  • Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UIMBI): This coverage covers medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering after an accident with an at-fault driver who does not have sufficient liability insurance to cover all costs.
  • Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UIMPD): This coverage reimburses damage to your vehicle or other property after an accident caused by a driver who does not have sufficient insurance.

In some states, UM and UIM are combined into one coverage policy. In other states, you can purchase each coverage separately.

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

You will need to purchase an uninsured motorist’s insurance policy if your state requires it to drive legally. If your state doesn’t require it, adding it to your policy may be worth it. Unified messaging is usually very affordable, and your liability insurance policy won’t protect you from damage caused by an uninsured driver.

Which states require coverage for uninsured motorists?

Many states require some type of coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. The table below indicates the type of coverage required under state law:

New Hampshire and Virginia only require UM/UIM if drivers choose to purchase insurance. Rhode Island requires UM/UIM if a driver purchases more than minimum liability coverage.

How many drivers are uninsured? »

According to the most recent data collected by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), about one in eight drivers in the United States had no auto insurance in 2019. The number of uninsured drivers, however, varies by state. In this same study, the IRC found that:

  • Mississippi had the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, 29.4%.
  • New Jersey had the lowest percentage of uninsured drivers, 3.1%.

Although neither state requires insurance, only 6.1% drivers from New Hampshire and 10.5% or Virginia drivers were uninsured.

How common are hit-and-runs?

In most states, the UMPD can be used to cover damage caused by a driver who immediately flees the scene. Below are data on hit-and-runs of a 2018 AAA study.

  • Car accidents caused by hit-and-run drivers in 2015: 11.7%
  • Collision-related injuries from hit-and-run accidents in 2015: 5.9%
  • 2015 hit-and-run traffic deaths: 5.1 percentrising to 5.5% in 2016

The study also found that hit-and-run deaths increased by approximately 60 percent from 2009 to 2016, an average increase of 7.2% per year. According to the study, New Mexico, Louisianaand Florida have the highest rates of hit-and-run fatalities per capita, while New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota have the lowest rates.

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Worth It?

Because it provides additional protection at a very low cost, we recommend that you have uninsured motorist coverage if you can afford it. UM/UIM can give you peace of mind by helping you avoid sudden expenses after a hit-and-run accident or collision with an underinsured driver.

Coverage for Uninsured Motorists: Conclusion

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are involved in an accident where the driver at fault does not have auto insurance. UM is inexpensive optional coverage that can be purchased as part of a comprehensive car insurance policy or in addition to an existing policy. Twenty-two states and Washington, DC, require some form of UM or UIM to drive legally, but it’s worth considering even if your state doesn’t require you to have coverage.

Our team has thoroughly reviewed the most reputable insurers. When you are buy car insurance, we recommend starting with State Farm and Travelers. It’s always good to stock up auto insurance quote from multiple providers to see which coverage fits your budget and needs.

State Farm: Best Overall Supplier

State Farm is the nation’s largest auto insurance provider. The company holds a Financial strength rating A++ from AM Best as well as a A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. In addition to its usage-based insurance program and numerous discount opportunities (especially for students), State Farm offers the following auto insurance coverage options:

Read more: State Farm Insurance Review

Travelers: Better coverage options

In addition to offering the six standard auto insurance coverages, including a solid option for uninsured motorists, Travelers offers many additional coverage options. These include loan/lease cover, named non-owner cover and new car replacement cover. The supplier has a Financial strength rating A++ by AM Best and a An evaluation of the BBB. Drivers praise Travelers for its affordability and attentive customer service.

Read more: Traveler’s Auto Insurance Review

How we rate insurers

Our review process aims to provide consistent and unbiased ratings of car insurance providers. While there are multiple qualities that make a successful auto insurance company, our review team focuses on the ones we believe are most important to consumers:

  • Cost: The cost can be difficult to compare between insurers because many factors affect annual premiums. The cheapest insurer for one driver may not be the cheapest for another. To determine our cost score, we review insurance rate estimates generated by Quadrant Information Services, rebate opportunities, and consumer reports.
  • cover: To determine our coverage score, we look at the number of coverage options available as well as coverage limits and deductible options. Our ratings also take into account additional services and benefits such as roadside assistance.
  • Reliability: It is important for an automobile insurer to be able to meet its claims obligations. Companies whose financial strength is rated by AM Best achieve the best results in this category. Established insurers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive ratings.
  • Service: We scour customer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​to learn more about customer experiences. Insurers with low complaint volumes perform well in this area. We also take the claims process into account, giving higher ratings to auto insurers that offer easy-to-use claims apps.

*Data correct at time of publication.

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