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Home > Blog > What is Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Two drivers look at damaged cars after their car crash

What is Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Although minimum liability insurance is required in nearly all states, some people still drive uninsured. There are also drivers who carry lower levels of coverage or limits who may not have enough coverage in a serious accident and are considered underinsured.

If you find yourself in an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured, Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage may be able to help cover damages and avoid an otherwise expensive and lengthy legal process.

What is Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/ UIM)?

Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, sometimes abbreviated as UM and UIM respectively can help protect you financially if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

It generally covers property damage and bodily injury expenses that occur in a car accident where the other driver is found to be at fault and either has no liability coverage (uninsured) or insufficient liability insurance (underinsured – where damages exceed their coverage limits).

What types of Uninsured Motorist Coverage exist?

There are two types of uninsured motorist coverage: uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance (UMBI) and uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD). As the name suggests, uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance typically helps cover medical expenses resulting from an accident with an uninsured driver. It also typically protects the insured as a pedestrian.

On the other hand, uninsured motorist property damage typically covers property damage resulting from an accident where the at-fault party is uninsured. This may cover things like vehicle repairs, broken fences, damaged buildings and the like. This is usually considered important coverage if you aren’t carrying collision insurance on your car.

Not all coverages are available in all states. The restrictions on coverage use vary from state to state too. It’s best to contact your insurance provider or independent agent if you have questions about what uninsured motorist coverage is offered in your state and what it covers.

How does uninsured motorist coverage work?

Say you find yourself in a car accident where the other party is at fault and they don’t have insurance. You typically have a few options. You can walk away and pay for the repairs or injuries out of pocket. You can file a lawsuit, but this may be a lengthy and costly battle. The other driver may not even have assets, so it could be a pointless process. So, what do you do?

In one of the best-case scenarios, you have uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is useful in accidents where the at-fault party does not have insurance. In Massachusetts, Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto (Uninsured Motorist) Coverage may even apply when the at-fault party is unidentified, like in a hit and run incident.

Some states have minimum uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist policy limits, however, it’s common for drivers to select limits that match their liability coverage.

How is underinsured motorist coverage different from uninsured motorist coverage?

Essentially, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and uninsured motorist coverage (UM) work the same way. However, UM coverage usually applies when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance. UIM coverage typically applies when the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage.

In cases where the at-fault driver has liability insurance, but damages exceed their coverage limits, the at-fault driver’s insurance will usually cover repairs up to their policy limit. Underinsured motorist coverage may help cover the rest of the expenses up to the UIM limit selected by the policyholder.

Do I need uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage if I have health insurance?

It depends. If uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist coverage is required in your state, then this is non-negotiable. If not, and you have adequate health insurance with a low deductible and low copays, you may elect to not add UM / UIM for the sole purpose of medical benefits.

If however, you have a high deductible health plan, uninsured motorist coverage may be a good option. In Massachusetts where uninsured motorist coverage is required, bodily injury settlements may be able to compensate for things health insurance may not, like pain and suffering.

Oftentimes, adding uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist coverage increases your premium by only a few dollars a month. However, drivers should evaluate what level of coverage and risk they’re comfortable with. Always talk with an insurance agent or MAPFRE Insurance representative to understand what UM / UIM covers in your state and discuss a policy that is right for you.

Do I really need uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage?

If you live in one of the states that require uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage by law, then legally it’s an essential part of your car insurance policy. Even if UM / UIM isn’t required coverage in the state, many drivers purchase the coverage for the peace of mind that they will have insurance if they are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Luckily, uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist coverage is a relatively inexpensive addition to a car insurance policy but provides added protection and reduced financial burden should you ever be in a car accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.

Find out if you could be saving by switching to MAPFRE Insurance by getting a Massachusetts car insurance quote, or if you’re located in another state, talk with an agent near you!

Questions about Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Does uninsured motorist insurance cover a hit and run?

In some states and with some insurance companies, uninsured motorist coverage may be able to apply in a hit and run situation when the at-fault party was unidentified. In Massachusetts, Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto (Uninsured Motorist) Coverage may apply in situations when the at-fault party is unidentified, like in hit and run incidents. However, laws on uninsured motorist coverage vary widely, so claims from a hit and run accident may need to be filed under collision coverage.

How many drivers in the U.S. are uninsured?

A 2017 study by the Insurance Research Council found that roughly 13% of drivers (that’s about one in eight) were uninsured in 2015. It’s important to have the right coverage to protect yourself financially if you’re ever in an accident with an uninsured driver.

How much does uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage cost?

The price for uninsured motorist insurance and underinsured motorist insurance depends on a variety of factors including the limits selected for each overage and the car insurance company you choose. However, you can get an estimate for how much UM/UIM could cost you with MAPFRE Insurance by getting your Massachusetts car insurance quote or connecting with an agent in other states.

Please Note: This article is meant only to provide general information about commonly available insurance coverages. Except as expressly noted, this content is not intended to describe any specific coverage offered by MAPFRE Insurance.  No coverage is provided, bound or guaranteed by this article.  Available coverages, credits and discounts vary from state to state and are subject to eligibility criteria and policy terms/conditions, which will control in the event of conflict between this article and your insurance policy. For information about your policy, please review your individual policy contract and speak with your insurance representative.

MAPFRE Insurance® is a brand and service mark of MAPFRE U.S.A. Corp. and its affiliates, including American Commerce Insurance Company (Cal. COA 4928-8), Citation Insurance Company, The Commerce Insurance Company, Commerce West Insurance Company (Cal. COA 1372-2), MAPFRE Insurance Company (Cal. COA 3039-5), and MAPFRE Insurance Company of Florida.

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