According to statistics from the Insurance Research Council, roughly 13% of drivers nationwide are uninsured. In some states, the number is much higher, with Florida’s uninsured driver count at 25%. If you are hit by an uninsured driver you could be paying to repair your vehicle out of your own pocket, unless you are carrying uninsured motorist coverage.
Here we will explain how uninsured motorist coverage protects you, with a focus on uninsured motorist property damage.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (often combined with underinsured motorist coverage, or UM/UIM) helps pay for your expenses if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Uninsured motorist coverage is comprised of two types, one that covers injuries and the other that covers property damage:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: This is also called UMBI and will help pay your medical expenses if you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver. This is one half of uninsured motorist coverage and in many states can be purchased on its own or in conjunction with uninsured motorist property damage.
- Uninsured motorist property damage: Uninsured motorist property damage insurance coverage is also known as UMPD, and covers damage done to your property, typically your car, but also other things such as fences.
How uninsured motorist property damage works
If you are in an accident and the other driver is at fault, the property damage liability section of the other driver’s car insurance covers the cost to repair your vehicle. However, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance — or not enough insurance — you may end up dipping into your own pocket to repair your car. This is where UMPD comes in.
Uninsured motorist property damage insurance, which is also known as UMPD helps cover the cost to repair or replace your car if someone without car insurance hits it. It should be noted that hit-and-run accidents are sometimes excluded in these policies (it depends on the state) and may instead be covered by your collision insurance.
Uninsured motorist insurance options vary widely by state. This includes the coverage options available as well as coverage limits and mandatory requirements.
UMPD can also be confused with collision coverage. Collision coverage pays to repair your own vehicle if you are involved in a car accident. UMPD, however, doesn’t usually have a deductible, and collision coverage does.
UMPD limits and deductibles
There are coverage limits and deductibles with UMPD insurance. The coverage limits usually vary by state, with some states requiring a minimum amount of UMPD. In most states, it’s optional. You can usually increase your coverage above the minimum; you may also be required to carry UMPD limits that match your liability limits.
The uninsured motorist property damage coverage limit is a single number, and that number is the maximum amount the policy will pay out for the property damaged in a single accident. In most states you can choose the amount of UMPD to carry up to specific limits. Some states limit coverage to $3,500; some are lower, and some are higher, even up to the actual cash value of the vehicle. Limits may differ depending on whether or not you carry collision insurance.
This coverage limit number is the maximum total payout for all property damaged in a single accident. As an example, if you chose a limit of $10,000 then that would be the most your policy would pay to repair your vehicle if you were hit by an uninsured driver.
There is not usually an uninsured motorist property damage deductible, but that can vary by state and insurance company. When deductibles are required, they are generally low.
Is uninsured motorist property damage coverage mandatory?
It depends on where you live. In some states, UMPD is required. In some it must be offered to all car insurance customers, but you can decline it. In almost all states, drivers are required to carry some type of property damage liability insurance to be legal out on the road, but that doesn’t mean everyone follows the law.
In addition to the uninsured drivers on the road, there are also plenty of drivers carrying only the state required insurance minimums, which are often too low if someone seriously damages your vehicle.
In these states UMPD is required:
- New Hampshire*
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia
*New Hampshire and Virginia don’t require car insurance by law, but if it is purchased, UMPD must be included.
In these states’ drivers must carry uninsured property damage coverage unless they specifically reject it in writing:
- Rhode Island
In Delaware and Illinois drivers must be offered UMPD but are not obligated to buy it. In Utah drivers can request UMPD if they don’t have collision coverage.
Do I need uninsured motorist property damage?
If you are hit by a motorist who is driving without insurance and you don’t have uninsured motorist property damage coverage or collision coverage, then you have to pursue the at-fault driver to pay for your damages. Recovering the money will be a challenge, and may require a lawsuit.
Do I need uninsured motorist coverage if I have collision and comprehensive?
If you have collision coverage, then UMPD coverage may be unnecessary. Collision insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident. Comprehensive only covers damage to your vehicle that is caused by something other than a collision, for example from fire, flooding and hail, so it doesn’t really apply in the same situations where UMPD would be used.
In many cases, uninsured motorist property damage alone is not enough to cover all potential car repair/replacement costs, and it only applies if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver without insurance coverage. If you end up in an accident that is your fault and you are only carrying UMPD, you will have to cover the cost to repair your vehicle. Collision insurance is a superior coverage, but it will cost more than UMPD.
If your main concern is keeping your premium as low as possible it may make sense to carry UMPD instead of collision.
If you want some protection while keeping premiums low, you could buy UMPD instead of collision, but it won’t pay for repairs if you’re at-fault in a crash. Without either UMPD or collision coverage, if an uninsured driver crashes into your car, your only option would be to sue the driver.