Question: Can you buy uninsured motorist property damage in all states? Also, how does uninsured motorist property damage differ than what I hear referred to as uninsured motorist?
Answer: No, uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) is not offered in all states. And indeed UMPD is different from uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage that many refer to as just uninsured motorist.
Types of uninsured motorist
Uninsured motorist coverage is broken down into two types – UMBI and UMPD – that address totally different items.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury pays for medical expenses arising from an auto accident, up to the selected limit, if the person liable for your injuries is an uninsured driver.
The limits for uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage are per person and per accident and typically set to the same limits as your bodily injury liability coverage. So, if you carry $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for liability, you’d carry the same 50/100 limits for your UMBI coverage.
In comparison, UMPD covers your car if it’s damaged due to an at-fault uninsured driver. How much it will pay out depends upon the way UMPD coverage is set up in your state. In some states, it pays up to $25,000, in others much less – such as California where it only pays up to $3,500 – or it may just pay your collision deductible, if you carry that coverage on your policy as well.
While states require motorists to purchase car insurance, or at least some type of financial responsibility to pay for anyone they harm in an at-fault accident, not everyone abides by the law. This is why over 20 states require UMBI to be carried. This way injuries from a car accident with an uninsured driver can be covered without victims needing to dip into their own savings. (See “Do all states require uninsured motorist coverage?”)
Not as many states care about your car being damaged by an uninsured motorist since you have the option of buying collision coverage to cover it for an accident with an uninsured – or insured -- driver.
UMPD and what states require
Uninsured motorist property damage is required to be purchased, the listed amounts, in the following states:
- District of Columbia – $5,000 ($200 deductible)
- Maryland - $15,000
- New Jersey - $5,000 ($500 deductible) – If you choose standard policy
- North Carolina - $25,000 ($100 deductible)
- South Carolina - $25,000 ($200 deductible)
- Vermont - $10,000 ($150 deductible)
- Virginia - $20,000 ($200 deductible)
- West Virginia - $10,000 ($300 deductible)
The following states require UMPD to be offered, but allow drivers to reject it in writing:
- Rhode Island
UMPD is totally optional in the following states, meaning the state doesn’t require it to be offered or for you to waive it in writing:
- Delaware (but if you accept UMBI you must also get UMPD)
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
UMPD isn’t offered at all in the following states:
- New York
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Why buy, or turn down, UMPD?
According to the Insurance Research Council’s (IRC) latest numbers, the rate of uninsured motorists varies from 28 percent to 4 percent depending upon the state in which you live – so there is a real possibility that you could be hit by an uninsured driver.
Without uninsured motorist property damage coverage as part of your policy, you could get stuck paying out-of-pocket for vehicle repair bills that weren’t of your making.
However, if you already have collision coverage on your vehicle, then you already have superior insurance protection on your vehicle and thus can save money by turning down UMPD. If you do choose UMPD, it may pay your collision deductible for you (check with your car insurance company to find out).
You may also want to decline UMPD coverage if your vehicle is older and you’d rather save the money you’d spend on either collision or UMPD to put toward your future replacement vehicle.