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Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage: Protection from Unprotected Motorists

Updated: October 2020

What happens when the driver who hit you doesn't have enough liability coverage? Or, even worse, what if he leaves before you can get his information? Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages financially protect you from irresponsible drivers.


Video Transcript

What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?

An uninsured motorist is someone without auto insurance. Chances are about one in seven drivers in the U.S. is uninsured, according to a 2011 estimate by the Insurance Research Council. Uninsured motorist coverage helps you pay for damages caused by a driver who doesn't have car insurance. If you're hurt or your car is damaged in a crash caused by such a driver, this coverage will help pay for costs, up to the limits in your policy.

But, what does it mean to be underinsured? Let's say you are injured in a car accident in which the other driver is at fault, but only has the state's minimum required bodily injury liability coverage, which isn't nearly enough to cover your medical bills. In some states, as long as your damages exceed the at-fault driver's policy limits, you can collect the difference up to your own policy limit. In that situation, the other driver would be considered underinsured.

However, in other states, if you and the at-fault driver have the same limits, the driver would not be considered underinsured and you may not be able to collect under your own insurance policy even if your damages are more than the other person's policy limits.

It's important to read your policy to understand how your underinsured motorist coverage is applied. This way, you can make sure you have the amount of coverage that is right for you.

The bodily injury portion of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may also cover injuries to your passengers or anyone driving your insured auto with your permission at the time of the accident.

In some states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is a single coverage, for which you pay a single premium. In others, they are separate coverages, for which you would pay separate premiums.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required in some states, while it's optional in others. Also, it's important to know that uninsured motorist property damage coverage is not available in some states.

Have questions? Contact your local Allstate agent today.

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Quick coverage facts

Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage:

  • Is used when the at-fault driver doesn't have enough (or any) liability coverage.
  • Can save you from having to pay out of pocket for a car accident you didn't cause.
  • Usually costs more to add to your policy in states with more uninsured drivers.

How uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage works

Say you're involved in an accident that wasn't your fault. In most circumstances, you'd file a claim with the at-fault driver's car insurance company, get your car repaired and recoup compensation for any lost wages or medical expenses. No out-of-pocket expenses to you.

But what if the driver who sideswiped you doesn't have car insurance or doesn't have enough of it? Minimum liability insurance requirements don't always offer enough coverage after a car accident.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can help protect your finances if you're in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

What is underinsured motorist insurance?

Underinsured motorist coverage helps pay your expenses if you're hit by an underinsured driver. In some states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages are bundled together as a single coverage on your auto policy.

Each state defines "underinsured" a bit differently. Typically, it's a driver who doesn't have enough insurance to cover someone else's damages if he or she is found at fault in an accident. For instance, an underinsured driver might have auto liability insurance but either:

  • Insufficient liability limits to cover your bills after an accident
  • Liability limits less than or equal to your underinsured motorist coverage limit

The difference between uninsured and underinsured coverage

Uninsured motorist insurance protects you if you're in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn't carry liability insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage steps in when you're in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the medical expenses of any injured people. The at-fault driver's insurance will typically pay for all damages up to his or her auto insurance policy limits, then your underinsured motorist coverage may cover the excess amount up to the limits you select.

States that require uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage

Many states require drivers to carry at least uninsured motorist coverage, if not both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

State Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Required? Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage Required? Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Required?

Connecticut

 

District of Columbia

 

Illinois

 

Kansas

 

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

 

Minnesota

 

Missouri

 

 

Nebraska

 

New Jersey

New Hampshire*

New York

 

North Carolina

North Dakota

 

Oregon

 

Rhode Island**

South Carolina

 

South Dakota

 

Vermont

Virginia***

West Virginia

 

Wisconsin

 

 

*Auto insurance is not required in New Hampshire. However, if you purchase insurance, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is required and includes underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage as well.

**Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in Rhode Island if you carry the state minimum limits for bodily injury auto liability coverage. If you purchase higher auto liability limits, then you must also purchase uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. Additionally, uninsured motorist coverage includes underinsured motorist, bodily injury and property damage coverage.

***Virginia does not require drivers to have auto insurance if they can prove they can pay for losses resulting from an accident. If you purchase insurance, you must have uninsured motorist (which includes both property damage and bodily injury) and underinsured motorist coverage.

2 types of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

Like liability insurance, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage breaks down into two coverage types: bodily injury and property damage.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI/UIMBI)

Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury is designed to cover you and the people in your car for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering if you're in an accident caused by someone who doesn't have insurance or enough insurance.

Medical payments (Med Pay) coverage or personal injury protection (PIP) may not be enough to keep drivers from needing UMBI or UIMBI. Keep in mind that if you're injured by an uninsured driver, UMBI or UIMBI may offer higher limits than either of those.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD/UIMPD)

Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) and underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) are designed to protect your car if someone hits you and doesn't have insurance or enough insurance.

Say another driver causes a 3-car accident. The damage is significant, and the responsible driver is uninsured or has low limits. These coverages could help cover the remaining repairs, up to the policy limits. They could also help to cover a collision deductible, rental car costs or other out-of-pocket expenses.

In some states, these coverages are required and automatically included for each vehicle on the policy. In other states where coverages are available but not required, if you want it for all vehicles on your policy, you'll need to add it separately for each.

How stacking works

If you have more than one car on your policy you may be able to "stack" your uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverage. Stacking is not allowed in every state. When uninsured and underinsured motorists bodily injury coverage is stacked, your selected limit is multiplied by the number of cars. Say you're a Pennsylvania driver with UMBI limits of $50,000/$100,000. If you add a second car to your policy, stacking would increase your limits to $100,000 per person, $200,000 per accident.

Adding uninsured/underinsured coverage to your car insurance policy

If you live in a state where this coverage is optional and want to add it to your Allstate policy, you can log in to do this anytime.

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This content is for informational purposes only and may not be applicable to all situations.

Coverage subject to terms, conditions, and availability. Policy issuance is subject to qualifications. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL. © 2020 Allstate Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL.
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