UM/UIM Auto Insurance Coverage

The truth about uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage can be complicated. UM/IUM auto insurance coverage is required in some states, but in others it may not even make sense to have it. If you already have MedPay or personal injury protection as well as collision coverage, you may have excess UM/UIM coverage. Any injuries or damage to your vehicle would be covered regardless of the insurance of the other driver. If that driver is underinsured or doesn't have auto insurance at all, it would probably be easier to have your damages covered by your other policies, too. You may be surprised to know that uninsured driver car insurance doesn't only apply when the other driver has no insurance; it also applies when the other driver can't be identified. If you're the victim of a hit-and-run, uninsured motorist coverage will apply if you have it. If you're wondering how uninsured motorist coverage works, it essentially operates to close the gap between your damages and the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has. This often kicks in when the other driver is at fault and only carries minimum liability coverage. In some states this can be as low as $5,000. If your brand new car is totaled, you'll definitely hope you can get more than $5,000 for your damages! Read on to learn more.

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Eric Stauffer

Licensed Insurance Agent

Eric Stauffer is an insurance agent and banker-turned-consumer advocate. His priority is educating individuals and families about the different types of insurance coverage. He is passionate about helping consumers find the best coverage for their budgets and personal needs. Eric is the CEO of C Street Media, a full-service marketing firm and the co-founder of, a financial educat...

Licensed Insurance Agent

Kristen Gryglik

Licensed Insurance Agent

Kristen is a licensed insurance agent working in the greater Boston area. She has over 20 years of experience counseling individuals and businesses on which insurance policies best fit their needs and budgets. She knows everyone has their own unique needs and circumstances, and she is passionate about counseling others on which policy is right for them. Licensed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire,...

Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Dec 19, 2023

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Have you ever have been hit by a driver who didn’t have car insurance? Have you ever been involved in a hit-and-run accident, whether in your own vehicle or as a pedestrian? If not, then consider yourself lucky.

However, if you don’t have any uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy, you may not be so lucky in the future.

This is one of the few auto insurance coverage options which can financially protect you in the event that:

  • You are hit by a hit-and-run driver
  • You get into a collision with the driver who doesn’t have insurance, or
  • If you get into an accident with another motorist whose coverage limits are insufficient to give you the financial compensation you are owed

In some states, UM/UIM coverage is mandatory. In others, it is simply optional. No matter what, though, you have total control over the coverage limits you purchase (and, consequently, how much more this coverage will make your premiums cost).

We will help walk you through the ins-and-outs of uninsured motorist coverage, the benefits of purchasing it (if optional) and/or increasing your coverage limits, as well as the challenges of filing a claim against your UM/UIM auto insurance coverage in the event of a worst-case scenario.

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What UM/UIM Coverage Does

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage picks up the slack where the other driver’s liability coverage would otherwise pay out, assuming that person is completely — or at least mostly — at fault.

If all or most of the fault lies with you, it’s your liability coverage which will pay out claims filed by the other driver’s insurance company.

Compensation for property/vehicle damage and medical expenses which you sustain from an accident that’s your fault will come from your comprehensive/collision and medical payments/personal injury protection coverages, respectively.

Because these coverages are designed to pay out on claims which the other driver’s liability coverage would normally cover, it should come as no surprise that uninsured motorist coverage and liability coverage work in very similar ways.

There are three different types of coverage limits that come with uninsured motorist coverage:

  1. Bodily injury liability per person
  2. Bodily injury liability per accident
  3. Property damage liability

On your policy, you may see it written out as $20,000/$40,000/$20,000, or however much your coverage limits are. If you want more information on how these limits apply to your accident, we go in-depth in our sister article about automobile liability coverage.

In general, the bodily injury portion covers medical expenses, lost wages, and any other replacement service costs (such as having to hire a cleaning or babysitting service which you normally wouldn’t have to if you were healthy) which you and any other passengers in your vehicle incur as a result of the accident.

The property damage liability pays for any damages to your vehicle and any other property that was damaged as a result of the accident.

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UM/UIM Costs and Requirements

Average UM/UIM Premiums in Required Coverage StatesLegend: Average UM/UIM Policy Insurance Premiums WisconsinIllinoisSouth CarolinaNorth CarolinaMarylandMissouri 153045607590105120135150165180195$126$88$98$145$199$115

South Carolina
North Carolina








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There are exactly 20 US states where uninsured motorist coverage is required: Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, West Virginia, Maine, Virginia, Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, South Dakota, South Carolina, North Dakota, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon.

In the chart above, you can see examples of average monthly premiums for a basic auto insurance policy.

If you live in any of these states but you haven’t looked at your insurance policy closely, you can at least rest assured that your policy will protect you financially if you get into an accident where claims can be filed against your uninsured motorist coverage.

Unfortunately for some drivers, none of the states where insured motorists are at the greatest Danger from uninsured or underinsured drivers have mandatory UM/UIM laws.

You will most likely be able to purchase this optional form of coverage if you live in any of the remaining 30 States, but it will raise your overall monthly premium costs.

However, if you live in any of the 10 states below, you may want to give some serious thought towards adding this coverage to your policy:

  1. Oklahoma — 26%
  2. Florida — 24%
  3. Mississippi — 23%
  4. New Mexico — 22%
  5. Michigan — 21%
  6. Tennessee — 20%
  7. Alabama — 20%
  8. Rhode Island — 17%
  9. Colorado — 16%
  10. Washington — 16%

The percentages listed next to each state reflect the number of drivers that are estimated to be on the road, at any given time, driving without insurance.

This means that using Oklahoma as an example, you have at least a 26 percent (or one in four) chance of getting into an accident with a driver who does not have insurance every time you get behind the wheel.

Of course, your risk goes up when you take into account the number of drivers who may have insurance, but not enough to cover the expenses of an accident, or drivers who may flee the scene of an accident regardless of how much insurance coverage they are carrying.

With such alarmingly high odds, it’s a pretty smart idea to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy. However, as you can see in the chart below, it may add a considerable cost to your monthly premiums.

Average UM/UIM Premiums in Optional Coverage StatesLegend: UM/UIM Policy Without UM/UIM Coverage OklahomaMichiganFloridaRhode Island 20406080100120140160180200220240260280300320340$106$143$75$90$205$235$315$350

Rhode Island






Of course, there are other factors that can play a role in whether or not you decide to purchase uninsured motorist coverage.

If you live in a no-fault state where PIP coverage is mandatory, or if you have chosen to put this coverage on your policy even though it isn’t mandated by state laws where you live, uninsured motorist coverage may be a little excessive.

Personal injury protection coverage is usually cheaper, and you don’t really need UM/UIM property damage coverage since your comprehensive and collision coverages will cover any property damage, regardless of fault.

There are specific circumstances, even when it isn’t mandatory, where UM/UIM coverage may be the cheaper option.

For instance, in states where underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection coverage are not mandatory, and you cannot afford comprehensive or collision coverage, UM/UIM may be the cheaper option.

It will basically pay out any claims which you would otherwise file against these specific types of coverage, assuming you are not mostly or completely at fault in the accident.

A word of caution before you resort to this money-saving option, though: filing a claim against your UM/UIM coverage can be considerably more difficult than filing most other claims.

Furthermore, the money you save on your monthly premiums may not be enough to pick up the slack if your insurance provider doesn’t want to pay the amount of money you need for medical expenses and/or property damage on your uninsured motorist claim.

Readmore: How To File An Auto Insurance Claim

Filing a UM/UIM Claim

Filing a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage is classified as a first-party claim. This means you are filing a claim against an entity that has a strong financial interest in either rejecting your claim or paying out as little as possible on an accepted one.

This is significantly different – and more difficult — than getting financially compensated by an at-fault driver’s liability coverage. Such claims are considered third-party claims, which are filed on your behalf by your insurance provider.

Insurance companies have stronger financial and legal resources, so it’s easier for them to fight for the money you deserve on your behalf.

With first-party claims, on the other hand, your insurance company will use its resources against you to try and deny your claim or pay out less than what you need. You should steel yourself in advance and prepare for an uphill battle.

Another aspect that may work either against you or in your favor is how fault is determined in the accident. If the other driver is 100 percent at fault, whether they are uninsured, underinsured, or a hit-and-run, you will have more leverage when filing your claim.

However, if legal fault is divided between you and the other driver, or if there are circumstances of your hit-and-run which your insurance company deems you partially liable for, it will be even harder to get the funds you deserve.

One very unique aspect of uninsured motorist coverage claims is the fact that they are stackable. This means that, when you file your claim, you can collect funds from different coverages and, potentially, multiple policies.

If you have a single auto insurance policy with multiple vehicles insured under it, the claim money you collect can equal a total of coverage limits for all of the vehicles put together.

Likewise, if you are paying for multiple policies on each vehicle, you can collect claim funds from each policy — up to the purchased limits, of course.

Finally, some states have unique laws that allow your claim money to come from even more resources. It’s best to talk to your insurance agent for more information on what your options are, and where you can collect your claims from.

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