Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is a type of car insurance that protects policyholders from accidents caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for the damage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) is required in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It is optional everywhere else.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Applies When:
- The accident is not your fault.
- The at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance to pay for your injuries or property damage.
- The at-fault driver does have liability insurance, but not enough to cover your expenses.
- You’re the victim of a hit and run (excluding some states).
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage replaces the liability coverage that the at-fault driver in an accident should have had and gives you coverage for all of your costs, up to your policy’s limits. If a driver with low coverage limits is responsible, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage fills the gap between what the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay and the total cost of the accident, up to the UIM policy’s limits.
Here’s one way to look at it: UM/UIM works just like your bodily injury and property damage liability coverage and is sold the same way, with coverage limits you select. But instead of buying insurance to protect other drivers from damage you cause, you’re buying insurance to protect yourself from damage caused by other drivers.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be purchased to cover bodily injuries (sometimes called UMBI), and coverage for property damage (sometimes called UMPD) is available in some states, too. Uninsured/underinsured bodily injury insurance covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income and funeral costs for you and all passengers in your car. Property damage coverage will pay for auto repairs, as well as damage to other property like a fence that has been run over by an uninsured driver.
However, uninsured motorist property damage insurance is not available in all states. Even in some states where it is available, like California and Illinois, drivers cannot use it to pay for property damage if the at-fault driver remains unidentified. As a result, uninsured motorist coverage could be used to pay for your expenses if you’re the victim of a hit and run, but it depends on the state. Some uninsured/underinsured property damage policies will also come with a deductible that you would be responsible for before your coverage begins.
Uninsured Motorist Requirements by State
Almost half of the states require at least some form of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Others require that the coverage be offered and that you actively decline UM/UIM coverage in writing if you do not want this type of insurance. If you live in a state where UM/UIM is not required, you may still have the option to purchase this insurance; however, not all types of coverage are available in every state.
The table below shows the minimum coverage required in each state.
States Where Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Is Required
|State||Uninsured Coverage Required?||Underinsured Coverage Required?|
|Connecticut||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident|
|District of Columbia||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property Damage at $5,000, subject to $200 deductible||No|
|Illinois||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident||No|
|Kansas||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident|
|Maine||Yes, Bodily Injury at $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident||Yes, Bodily Injury at $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident|
|Maryland||Yes, Bodily Injury at $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and Property Damage at $15,000||Yes, Bodily Injury at $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and Property Damage at $15,000|
|Massachusetts||Yes, Bodily Injury at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident||No|
|Minnesota||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident|
|Missouri||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident||No|
|Nebraska||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident|
|New Hampshire||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property Damage at $25,000 per accident.||Yes, Bodily Injury at $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and Property damage at $25,000 per accident.|
As of November 2020
Percentage of Uninsured Drivers by State
The proportion of motorists without insurance varies dramatically by state. According to a study by the Insurance Research Council, it ranges from a high of 25.9 percent of drivers in Oklahoma to only 3.9 percent in Massachusetts.
You can find data for your state on the map below.
Estimated Percentage of Uninsured Drivers
Source: Uninsured Motorists, 2017 Edition, Insurance Research Council.
Do You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Even if UM/UIM insurance is not required in your state, it’s important to protect yourself against uninsured and underinsured motorists, especially if you live in a state where driving uninsured is particularly common.
Think about it this way: When you buy auto liability insurance, you’re paying to protect other people. It makes sense to give yourself the same protection you’re giving to others. In fact, in many states, if you purchase more than the required minimum amount of liability coverage, your UM/UIM insurance must have the same limits. So if you choose auto liability insurance with 100/300/100 limits, your UM/UIM insurance will also be set at 100/300/100.
However, your current insurance policy may offer you some protection against uninsured drivers.
- For bodily injury: Both personal injury protection and medical payments insurance will cover your medical costs no matter who is at fault – including an uninsured driver. But be certain that your coverage levels are sufficient.
- For property damage: If you already have collision coverage, you can use that to cover damage to your own car, which would make the additional UM/UIM property damage coverage redundant.
Still, in most cases, you’ll find that adding uninsured/underinsured coverage is very affordable, sometimes adding only a few dollars per month to your insurance premiums.