Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Apr 30, 2019

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Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Under-insured Motorist (UIM) are two types of auto insurance coverage that will pay for injuries or damage that happen to you or your passengers (and in some cases your property) when an accident happens and the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured.

It is not mandatory in most states to carry this type of insurance, but for a potentially minimal cost, it may be well worth the peace of mind it can provide.

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UM and UIM defined

An uninsured driver is defined as a person who has no insurance at all, had coverage that did not meet minimum state-mandated liability requirements, whose claim was denied by their insurance company; or their insurance company could not financially cover their claim.

What are Car Insurance Requirements in your State?

Under-insured drivers meet the minimum legally required financial responsibility with their insurance, but do not have payment limits high enough on their policy to cover all of the damage they caused in the accident.

In either of these situations, if you have UM or UIM on your own insurance policy, this will cover the cost of your damages when their coverage does not.

Types of Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Protection

Under-insured Motorist Protection (UMP)

If you choose to add this to your policy, it will pay you for any damages over and above payment limits carried by a driver who is under-insured.

Uninsured Motorist – Property Damage (UMPD)

Most people have collision coverage on their car insurance policy. However, some drivers may consider themselves very careful, and choose not to carry collision. Buying UMPD is one alternative way to protect their vehicle from an uninsured driver accident, without a large increase in their insurance premium.

Uninsured Motorist – Bodily Injury (UMBI)

This type of coverage, if you choose to carry it, is what will pay your expenses if an uninsured motorist happens to hit you in their car while you are walking across the street.

This policy addition will cover medical expenses and lost wages, which is important because health insurance or other medical payments coverage will not take care of lost wages.

Bodily injury may also be covered if you have disability insurance, but if the disability insurance is provided by your employer, it would not cover you and your family members if you were to switch jobs.

Additionally, disability insurance will not cover you and your family while traveling in other cars.

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Is UI or UIM Mandatory?

There are a few states that mandate UM/UIM, but most of them do not. If you choose to purchase this protection, there are state minimums that your UI/UIM payments will need to comply with, and they cannot exceed your liability limits.

It is worth emphasizing that, if you are in an accident and choose to settle it with the other driver by yourself without involving any insurance companies, you will not be able to file a claim for the UM/UIM protection.

How Much Does UI Cost?

Typically, it is fairly inexpensive to add uninsured/under-insured motorist protection to your insurance policy, especially when you consider the amount of financial protection it can offer.

If somebody driving with no insurance was to cause an accident and put you in the hospital, this type of insurance could pay your medical bills, lost wages at work, and compensate you for pain and suffering.

Otherwise, if someone hits your car or you and is held legally responsible for damages, you will get nothing if they have nothing. Many drivers, especially when the economy is tough, don’t carry insurance or don’t carry enough.

If you add UM/UIM to your policy, you will be able to get money even if the other driver does not have the ability to pay.

Potential Issues

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist and you are trying to have your own insurance company pay damages to you using the UI/UIM Coverage, be aware that they will still try to minimize the amount of money they pay out.

In other words, it would be as if the insurer is representing the driver who hit you, and the insurer will be working against you, trying to find reasons for paying less or paying nothing at all.

It may be best to hire a car accident attorney to help you get the settlement amount that you require if you find yourself in this situation and have a large amount of monetary damages.

However, this situation still has a higher probability of resulting in money to cover your damages than going after the assets of an uninsured driver, who may not have any assets to give.

Use our FREE quote tool to compare auto insurance rates today!

Related posts:

  1. What is Uninsured and Underinsured auto insurance coverage?
  2. Are you automatically insured when driving someone else’s car?
  3. Full Coverage Car Insurance vs Liability Insurance