Benefits of Adding Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage [Guide]
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UPDATED: Nov 15, 2020
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According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), between 12 and 15 percent of all drivers currently on the road are driving without any car insurance at all.
That puts you (and the rest of us) at great risk.
If you are in the market for an insurance company or already have an individual policy, you can protect yourself against these folks from financial losses by ensuring your policy has uninsured motorists coverage included.
Note: Illustrated above are the states with the highest amount of uninsured motorists, according to III.org. Included is the percentage amount in 2010 compared to 2018. The states with the highest amount of uninsured drivers are Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Michigan, and Tennessee. The two states which had an increase over eight years are Florida and Michigan.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If you are in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, uninsured motorist coverage from your policy will cover the costs for any damage to your vehicle and/or bodily injury of those in your vehicle.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is going to protect you from a driver without coverage.
This is important.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), UM’s average claim payment for injuries is $29,825.
There are two kinds of UM:
- Bodily Injury
- Property Damage
Bodily injury is similar to bodily injury on your required liability insurance.
It will cover associated injuries to you and their costs.
Property damage is similar to property damage on your liability policy.
This covers damages to your insured vehicle and their associated costs.
The difference you need to know about bodily injury liability and property damage on your liability policy and uninsured motorist protection is this:
The liability policy will cover the other driver’s expenses while UM will cover your expenses.
Note: Car insurance companies know driving without insurance coverage is common. Suppose you decide to let your coverage lapse; you may pay a significantly higher premium than before. As illustrated, each age driver had a 25% increase in their annual premium.
When you get a policy from an insurance company and you are asked if you want UM, you may want to know what is covered.
Below I have outlined the items covered with uninsured motorist bodily injury in the insurance industry.
– Hospital bills and medical care expenses.
– Lost wages if you are unable to work due to an injury.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage should cover the following items:
– Damage to your insured vehicle and/or home
You may be asking, what if there are additional passengers in my vehicle?
Such as your children?
If you have UM, then yes.
The numbers you will see are similar to your liability policy.
Such as 15,000/30,000/15,000.
The first number is the amount of bodily injury coverage for a single driver or $15,000 in liability limits.
While the second number is the amount of insurance protection for additional passengers in the covered vehicle or $30,000 in liability limits.
Which States Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
While most well-crafted car insurance policies will have uninsured motorists coverage as a clause, a few states are a legal requirement for licensed drivers to protect you from an uninsured motor vehicle.
You’ll need to include uninsured motorists coverage with your liability insurance policy if you live in one of these states:
|State||UM Requirements||State||UM Requirements|
|District of Columbia - Washington D.C.||25,000/50,000||New York||25,000/50,000|
The list above provides the minimum UM coverage required to maintain financial responsibility laws.
Depending on your situation and vehicle type, you may need to get more coverage from an insurance company.Note: Illustrated above is the year by year trend of drivers without proper coverage from 2009 to 2018. The trend was on a decline until recently. The trend is expected to increase by 2021. This would make it riskier for you not to have the proper coverage for your vehicle.
How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cost?
The premium cost of UM protection is much cheaper than your regular liability policy you get from your insurance company.
The amount you will pay depends on the state you reside in and other factors such as your driving habits.
I have found the average for UM per year is approximately $22 to $74 for the minimum coverage.
For more coverage, your premium could double to $44 and $140 per year.
Below I have a table showing the cost for uninsured motorist protection for three states with varying coverage types.
|State||Coverage||Premium per year|
Typically the state with a high amount of uninsured motorists will have higher auto insurance costs.
This is not true in all instances.
Maine has higher than average uninsured motorist premiums though the state has a low number of uninsured motorists.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Many insurance companies offer underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) separate and distinct from uninsured motorist coverage.
Some companies will combine uninsured with underinsured motorist coverage.
On the other hand, underinsured motorist coverage is interesting and something worth considering from your insurance provider.
Even with an underinsured motor vehicle owner who has his/her state’s legal liability levels in place hits you, many required coverage levels are quite low compared to what medical treatment or car repair bills can be.
Therefore, if you get hit by an insured driver with minimum coverage and your medical bills or car repairs exceed the underinsured driver’s package limits, your underinsured motorist coverage will cover you.
How much Uninsured Motorist Coverage should you get?
If you live in a state requiring you to carry UM protection, the state will set a minimum level needed to meet that requirement.
(Believe it or not, some states have set a cap on the amount of uninsured motorists coverage an insurer can sell you.)
As a rule of thumb, it makes sense to put UM levels in place that mirror whatever liability coverage levels you have.
As I mentioned previously, like liability coverage, uninsured motorist options usually have two parts: a bodily injury portion and a property damage portion.
Also note that as far as optional coverage selections go, uninsured motorists coverage is one of the least expensive add-ons you can include in an automobile insurance policy.
When You Shouldn’t Get It
There are no-fault states which require you to get Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage.
PIP coverage is going to cover your injuries if the other driver has coverage or not.
So you would not have to worry about being covered with UM in a state that requires PIP.
However, some states, such as Minnesota, require PIP, uninsured motorist protection, and medical payments coverage (MedPay).
|State||Minimum Coverage Required||No-Fault or Tort Laws|
|Delaware||$15,000 per person|
$30,000 per accident
$5,000 funeral expenses
|Florida||$10,000 per person||No-Fault|
|Hawaii||$10,000 per person||No-Fault|
|Kansas||$4,500 per person for medical expenses|
$4,500 for rehab expenses
$2,000 funeral expenses
$900 per month for disability/loss of income
$25 per day for in-home expenses
|Kentucky||$10,000 per person||No-Fault|
|Maryland||$2,500 per accident||Tort|
|Massachusetts||$8,000 per person||No-Fault|
|Michigan||Unlimited medical expenses|
Up to $5,189/month in lost income
$20 per day for replacement services
|Minnesota||$20,000 for medical expenses|
$20,000 for loss of income
|New Jersey||$15,000 per person|
$250,000 for severe/permanent injury
|New York||$50,000 per person|
$2,000 death benefit
80% of lost income up to $2,000/month
$25 per day for services
|North Dakota||$30,000 per person||No-Fault|
|Oregon||$15,000 per person||Tort|
|Pennsylvania||$5,000 per accident||No-Fault|
|Utah||$3,000 per person|
$1,500 per person funeral expenses
$3,000 death benefit
$250/wk or 85% of lost income (whichever is less)
$20 per day for services
Is Insurance Worth It?
Each year over 2.5 million people take trips to the emergency room, and out of the 2.5 million, over 200,000 have extended hospital stays with the average medical cost of $54,000 to $68,000.
Despite efforts by states to curb the number of uninsured motorists on the roads, the Insurance Research Council in 2017 reported that 13% of drivers nationwide were driving without coverage in 2015, the last year for which data is available, according to Insurance.com.
The answer is yes – it is worth it.
One of the cost-effective add-ons and benefits to your policy is uninsured motorist protection.
If you have $25,000 in coverage and unfortunately have bills which cost twice as much, you wouldn’t be covered for the other half.
Personally, I have $100,000 in uninsured motorist benefits for my and my wife’s motor vehicles.
I was able to double my coverage for less than a few bucks a month.
So it’s worth it.
It is much better than being bogged down with bills you can’t pay.
Stacking and Supplementary Coverage
Some states allow you to do what is called “Stacking.”
Stacked coverage or inter-policy stacking means you can collect from more than one policy when you are in a car accident with an uninsured motorist.
There are a couple of ways “stacking” can work.
If you have multiple vehicles under one policy, you may be able to collect up to the insured limit for each vehicle under the policy limit.
The other way “stacking” can work.
If you have multiple policies that list you as the primary driver, you may be able to collect from all of them up to the full cost of your injuries if involved in an automobile accident.
Say you are a Tennessee driver with UMBI limits of $25,000/$50,000.
If you add a second car to your policy, stacking will increase your limit to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.
Some states allow insured drivers injured as a passenger in a vehicle they don’t own covered by both uninsured motorist coverage of the vehicle he was riding in “and” in the coverage of his or her own policy.
Stacked Coverage May Cost More, but Worth it
You have a right to purchase “stacked” coverage from an insurance company.
It’s definitely better if you have two or more vehicles.
Below is a table showing which states allow stacking and which don’t.
|Arkansas||25/50/25||Yes||Although stacking coverage is not statutorily prohibited, it may be precluded by applicable anti-stacking clause in a policy.|
|Delaware||15/30/10||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Florida||10/20/10||Yes||Stacking is allowed, unless waived in writing on state-approved form.|
|Georgia||25/50/25||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Hawaii||20/40/10||No||Not allowed under multiple policies, but insurer must offer the option to purchase stacking under a single policy.|
|Indiana||25/50/10||No||Only allowed under one policy if separate and specific premium is charged for UM coverage.|
|Mississippi||25/50/25||Yes||While stacking is allowed, clear anti-stacking clauses in an insurance policy have been upheld by the courts.|
|New Hampshire||25/50/25||Yes||Unless clearly excluded by an insurer’s policy.|
|New Jersey||15/30/5||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|New York||25/50/10||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|North Carolina||30/60/25||Yes ||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Ohio||25/50/25||Yes||Unless clearly excluded by an insurer’s policy.|
|Oklahoma||25/50/25||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Oregon||25/50/20||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
But insured may select no-stacking option for a reduced premium.
|South Carolina||25/50/25||Yes||Unless clearly excluded by an insurer’s policy.|
|Tennessee||25/50/15||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Texas||30/60/25||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Utah||25/65/15||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
|Washington||25/50/10||No||But anti-stacking language must be very clear in the insurer’s policy.|
|West Virginia||20/40/10||Yes||But insurer may clearly prohibit stacking in a single policy.|
|Wisconsin||25/50/10||Yes||But insurer may limit coverage to 3 vehicles.|
|Wyoming||25/50/20||Yes||Stacking is allowed but only among multiple policies.|
Supplementary UM is basically the same as the regular cover but will cover your costs if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver from another state.
If you have an insurance company offering this protection, it is something to consider.
Always check with your insurance advisor about available options when discussing coverage.
Going over the different scenarios and premium options will help you make the best decision for you and your family.