UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean that people won’t break the law and do it anyway. And driving illegally without a valid insurance policy is one of those laws that gets broken more frequently than we would like to admit.
Why is it so dangerous for these drivers to get behind the wheel? Well, it’s because of their potential to cause a serious – or potentially deadly – accident and leave their victims picking up the pieces. If you become the victim of an accident that isn’t your fault, and the culpable driver can’t or won’t take financial responsibility, it could have a seriously detrimental affect on your life. And falling victim to such a driver is more common than you might think. Just take a look at the chart below for the 10 states with the highest numbers of uninsured drivers on the road:
That’s why insurance companies offer Uninsured Motorist Insurance coverage for their customers. And if you live in one of the states mentioned above, or are just concerned about other drivers not following the rules, then you might want to look into adding this type of coverage to your policy (if you haven’t done so already).
What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Uninsured motorist insurance pays out when you have been seriously injured, your car has sustained damages, and the guilty party cannot pay due to lack of insurance. UM coverage guarantees that you are recompensed for the dollar amount that the uninsured motorist would have paid if he had adequate insurance. Of course, there are limits to how much you will receive. And those limits will be determined when you sit down with your insurance agent to decide how much Uninsured Motorist coverage you want to purchase.
This is where uninsured coverage helps give you peace of mind. Typically, this coverage is divided into two categories:
- Bodily Injury – Bodily Injury UMI helps pay for medical expenses and lost wages. While your health insurance will cover you for medical expenses, it will not cover you for the time you spend out of work. Also, most medical insurance plans cover you, the individual; UM insurance, however, will cover you, your passengers, and other individuals listed on your policy. It can even cover you if a car hits you while crossing the street.
- Property Damage – While most people have Collision insurance, careful drivers sometimes opt for this kind of insurance instead. It’s usually a better value than paying the deductible to have your vehicle repaired through your Collision coverage. But remember: Collision pays out claims no matter what the circumstance, whereas UM coverage only repairs your vehicle if an at-fault driver is responsible for the damage. And some companies refuse to pay out UM claims for hit-and-run accidents, so make sure you discuss this and all exemptions of your UM coverage with your insurance company before you sign.
Obtaining Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Most states require that auto insurance companies provide UM coverage for their customers. Further still, many state laws require some form of UM coverage on the insurance policy that your provider sells you. But the laws will vary from state to state. So if you feel that you don’t need or can’t afford this type of coverage, talk to your insurance company about alternative options.
Insurance companies are usually obligated to offer you this insurance, or inform you in some fashion. However, if you put in writing that you fully understand all the benefits that UM entails and that you reject the service, you can get out of it.
There is a common misconception that Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist insurance are basically the same type of coverage. This, unfortunately, is not true. They are two different types of coverage which protect you in different situations. If you are unclear about their different functions, ask your insurance agent to explain them to you in greater detail.
UM covers you in the event of an accident with an uninsured motorist. Underinsured motorist coverage gives you protection from people whose insurance is inadequate to pay you in full for the damages resulting from the accident. As you can see, it is easy to confuse the two, and it is important to have both. Check and double check your policies. And don’t forget to enter your zip code below so that you can get the most affordable UM coverage available in your area!