According to statistics from the Insurance Research Council, roughly 13% of drivers nationwide are uninsured. The number is much higher in some states, 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 an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you. Uninsured motorist coverage comprises two types:
- 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 independently 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, and other things such as fences.
How uninsured motorist property damage coverage 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 of repairing 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, or UMPD, helps cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car if someone without car insurance hits it. It should be noted that hit-and-run accidents are sometimes excluded in these policies (depending on the state) and may be covered by your collision insurance.
Uninsured motorist insurance options vary widely by state. This includes the coverage options available, 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 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, 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 vehicle’s actual cash value. Limits may differ depending on whether or not you carry collision insurance.
This coverage limit is the maximum total payout for all property damaged in a single accident. For example, if you chose a limit of $10,000, then that would be the most your policy would pay to repair your vehicle if an uninsured driver hit you.
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 must carry some 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, many drivers carry 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, you must 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 repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident. Comprehensive only covers damage to your car caused by something other than a collision, so it doesn’t apply in the same way.
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 only carry UMPD, you must cover the cost of repairing your vehicle. Collision insurance is superior, but it will cost more than UMPD.
If your primary concern is keeping your premium as low as possible, carrying UMPD instead of collision may make sense.
If you want 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.