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Do all states require uninsured motorist coverage?


Question: Do all states require uninsured motorist coverage, the one that covers injuries?  I heard you can turn it down in some states?

Answer: Not all states require motorists to purchase uninsured motorist bodily injury. However, even in states that don’t mandate the coverage you typically must be offered the coverage. You can waive it in writing. 

What is uninsured motorist bodily injury?

It appears you’re aware there are two types of uninsured motorist insurance.  Uninsured motorist bodily injury, which is what most people refer to when they discuss uninsured motorist coverage, and uninsured motorist property damage.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) is required, and offered, by many more states than uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD).

UMBI pays for medical expenses, up to your limit, if the person liable for your injuries is an uninsured driver.  It may also pay for pain and suffering and lost wages depending upon the terms of your policy.

The limits for uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage are per person and per accident and normally should mirror your bodily injury liability coverage. So, if you carry $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for liability, carry the same 100/300 limits of UMBI.

UMPD pays for your vehicle, up to the limit of the policy, if it’s damage by an at-fault uninsured driver.

Which states require uninsured motorist bodily injury?

Uninsured motorist bodily injury is offered in all states, except Michigan.  Here are the states where it is mandatory to carry UMBI as part of your car insurance policy and the minimum you can purchase:

1.    Connecticut – 20/40

2.    District of Columbia – 25/50

3.    Illinois - 20/40 (until 1/1/15 when it increases to 25/50)

4.    Kansas – 25/50

5.    Maine – 50/100

6.    Maryland – 30/60

7.    Massachusetts – 20/40

8.    Minnesota – 25/50

9.    Missouri – 25/50

10.  Nebraska – 25/50

11.  New Jersey – 15/30

12.  New York – 25/50

13.  North Carolina – 30/60

14.  North Dakota – 25/50

15.  Oregon – 25/50

16.  South Carolina – 25/50

17.  South Dakota – 25/50

18.  Vermont – 50/100

19.  Virginia – 25/50

20.  West Virginia – 20/40

21.  Wisconsin – 25/50

A few other states may require UMBI depending on what else is on your policy.

For instance, New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers buy car insurance, but if they do, the policy must include UMBI of 25/50 on it.

In New Jersey, if you choose a basic policy, uninsured motorist bodily injury isn’t required.  In fact, it isn’t even available.  However, if a driver chooses a standard policy, which offers much better protection, UMBI is required.

In Rhode Island, uninsured motorist bodily injury is not required if you buy just the state-minimum bodily injury liability limits.  But, if you choose higher limits for bodily injury, which is recommended, you must also carry UMBI as part of your car insurance policy.

Where you can waive uninsured motorist coverage?

Most other states require that car insurance companies offer you uninsured motorist bodily injury, but allow drivers to reject – in writing – the coverage.  This includes:

1.    Alabama

2.    Alaska

3.    Arizona

4.    Arkansas

5.    California

6.    Colorado

7.    Delaware

8.    Florida

9.    Georgia

10.  Hawaii

11.  Idaho

12.  Indiana

13.  Iowa

14.  Kentucky

15.  Louisiana

16.  Mississippi

17.  Montana

18.  Nevada

19.  New Mexico

20.  Oklahoma

21.  Pennsylvania

22.  Rhode Island (unless you have higher liability limits, then required)

23.  Tennessee

24.  Texas

25.  Utah

26.  Washington

27.  Wyoming

This leaves Ohio, which doesn’t require car insurance providers to offer uninsured motorist coverage (but allows you to add it to your policy if you want) and Michigan, where uninsured motorist bodily injury isn’t offered at all.

Why carry uninsured motorist bodily injury?

If you want coverage as part of your car insurance policy that pays for injuries that you may receive at the hands of an uninsured driver, this coverage is for you.  Remember, if the person doesn’t have insurance it’s highly unlikely he or she has any personal assets.  This means even if you sue and received a judgment in your favor you may not be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses.

Also, UMBI typically includes the ability to claim for pain and suffering or lost wage.  Personal injury protection, if you have it on your policy, may pay for lost wages, but not pain and suffering.  And, medical payments or your own health insurance policy won’t pay for either lost wages or pain and suffering.

Carrying UMBI doesn’t have to break the bank, if you want to see how much it will cost, compare car insurance rates with and without the coverage.

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