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Basics About Uninsured Motorist Coverage and How it Can Protect You



One of the most important types of insurance a licensed driver can carry is uninsured motorists insurance (UMI). Although many states require drivers to have this type of insurance, not many motorists are overly familiar with its intricacies and are unaware of its benefits.

© Nenov Brothers - Fotolia.comWhat is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance that protects a driver who gets involved in an accident with a motorist who does not carry any insurance.

What is underinsured motorist insurance (UIM)?

This type of insurance covers drivers who are in an accident with someone who has a minimum or insufficient amount of motor insurance.

Why is uninsured motorist coverage a good idea?

DMV.org reports that approximately one out of every seven drivers in the United States is uninsured. With a statistic such as that, the odds are raised for motorists to be engaged in an accident with a driver who is uninsured, which can result in costs of thousands of dollars. Uninsured motorist coverage is the best way to protect law-abiding, insurance-carrying drivers from other drivers who aren’t as conscientious.

Is UM/UIM required?

Each state has its own laws and requirements regarding uninsured motorist insurance. There are several different categories that a state can fall into. Some states require drivers to have both uninsured drivers and underinsured drivers insurance. Other states only require uninsured drivers insurance. A few states require that drivers carry uninsured drivers property damage insurance. There are also a few states that don’t require any of these types of insurance and it is only required that they are offered to consumers. It is important that drivers know what the state in which they reside requires to assure their insurance coverage is sufficient and they are within the confines of the law.

How much uninsured motorist insurance is needed?

The answer to this question is different for everyone. Some factors that help determine the best amount of coverage for any driver include the monetary value of the vehicle, what type of medical insurance he or she has, and whether there is access to long or short-term disability coverage through an employer to help defray any costs and loss of wages for a potential accident.

What does uninsured motorist insurance cover?

At its most basic level, uninsured motorist insurance covers bodily injury and oftentimes damage done to the automobile that was involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. UMI also covers also covers injuries that are sustained due to the accident by any passengers of the policyholder. UMI insurance is usually broken into two categories: bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage.

Uninsured motorists bodily injury (UMBI) coverage

This form of uninsured motorist insurance covers the medical expenses, lost expenses and provides money for pain and suffering for insured drivers and their passengers in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver. This type of insurance also covers drivers and their passengers if they are injured during a hit-and-run accident.

Property damage coverage (UMPD)

This portion of uninsured motorist insurance is generally not required to have, but it is a good idea to carry it. Being without it can cost a driver thousands of dollars in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. This type of insurance takes effect when the other driver has been found to be at least partially at fault and has no insurance, or inadequate insurance. The automobile insurance company will go after the uninsured driver, however they usually do not have assets to offset any damages that were caused from the accident so the property damage coverage will kick in.

What does UMPD cover?

Obviously, UMPD insurance covers damages incurred by the vehicle that was in the accident. It also covers other types of property as well. UMPD insurance also covers a house or fence that was damaged by an uninsured driver who ran into one of these structures. It also can cover personal items such as laptop computers and cell phones that were ruined or otherwise damaged in an accident.

Coverage limits

In most cases, people who decided to purchase uninsured motorists insurance must set the limits of coverage they want. Generally this type of insurance is split into coverage depending on if there are one or multiple people in the car at the time of an accident. For example, a policy might pay $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident. Another option for purchasing uninsured motorist insurance is called “combined single limits.” This type of coverage allows someone to purchase a single amount of coverage that is payable for all injuries incurred in an accident. For example, the policy might just cover $30,000 for all injuries incurred in an accident.

Having a sufficient amount of automobile insurance is a wise idea. It is also important to have the correct amount of insurance to remain within the limits of state laws. Even if the state in which a driver resides does not require uninsured drivers insurance, it advisable that drivers obtain this type of coverage in order to assure they are covered in the event of an accident with a driver who has not been wise with their insurance choices.

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