Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you're hit by an uninsured driver. This is important considering that about 1 in 8 drivers isn't insured, according to the Insurance Research Council.

Uninsured motorist coverage, often termed "UM coverage" is broken into two categories:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: pays the cost of your hospital bills if you're injured in an accident. If you are injured by an uninsured driver and don't have UM coverage, medical payments coverage, personal injury protection, or your own medical insurance, you would be responsible for your own hospital bills.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: pays for repairs to your car if it's damaged in an accident. If your car is damaged by an uninsured driver and you don't have UM coverage or collision coverage, you would have to pay for repairs yourself or go after the at-fault driver in court.

There is also related coverage, called underinsured motorist coverage, which protects you from other drivers who have insurance, but not enough to pay for your injuries or car repairs. It is also broken into two categories:

Jump ahead for the information that applies to you:
State Requirements
Coverage limits
How to Decide if you Need Uninsured Motorist?

More info:

How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cost?

What Does Uninsured Motorist Cover?
States with the most and least uninsured drivers
Stacked coverage

State requirements

Some states require drivers to buy uninsured motorist coverage, and in others, it isn't available. In states where the coverage is available, uninsured motorist bodily injury protection and uninsured motorist property damage protection can be sold separately or bundled together. It also can be bundled with underinsured motorist coverage.

Which states require uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage?

Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin require coverage. New Hampshire does not require auto insurance, but if you buy a policy, as most residents do, it must include uninsured motorist coverage. In most other states, the coverage must be offered to all policyholders.

Which states require uninsured motorist property damage coverage?

Mandatory: District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia

Optional: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. In states with no law on the books, the insurance company may or may not offer coverage.

Coverage limits

If I buy uninsured motorist coverage, how much do I need?

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is usually sold in amounts that mirror the liability insurance you bought. For example, if you bought a policy with $50,000 per person bodily injury liability coverage, up to $100,000 per accident, then you would buy UM coverage in the same amounts.

If you choose to buy an amount less than what you carry as liability coverage, an insurer typically will require that you sign a waiver noting that you were offered the higher amount. Liability insurance is mandatory in all states except New Hampshire, and each state sets its own minimum liability requirements.

How much does uninsured motorist coverage cost?

Below you'll see the average yearly rate for uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI), uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) and underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) and underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) coverages, based on CarInsurance.com's rate analysis. We looked at costs for two coverage set for 10 ZIP codes in each state, from up to six major insurers, for a driver age 35 with good credit and clean driving record. The first coverage set is for liability limits that pay up to $50,000 for those you injure, up to $100,000 per accident, with up to $50,000 for damages you cause to other property and vehicles. The second coverage set is full coverage, with higher liability amounts and the optional comprehensive and collision coverages, carrying a $500 deductible.

Coverage Set UMBI UMPD UIMBI UIMPD
50/100/50$33$21$15$9
100/300/100; comp/collision; $500 deductible$71$19$45$13

While uninsured motorist coverage is fairly affordable, the cost does vary a great deal among states. Below you'll see average rates for several states, as examples. 

New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Maine are among the states that have the lowest percentages of uninsured motorists in the country at around 3% to 5%. Mississippi, Michigan and Tennessee have the most uninsured drivers, around 24% to 29%. But insurance companies can also differ drastically in rates. To get the cheapest car insurance for your situation, comparing carriers is critical. Use CarInsurance.com's average car insurance rate tool to see what you can expect to pay for basic coverages before shopping around.

State Average price of UM coverage
California$105
Florida$267
Massachusetts$18
Maine$23
Ohio$46
Texas$110
Oregon$49

 

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

If I have personal injury protection, do I need uninsured motorist insurance?

Probably. In no-fault states such as Florida, motorists are required to buy personal injury protection (PIP) to ensure that all drivers have access to emergency treatment, regardless of who is to blame for the accident. But the limits on that personal injury coverage are usually quite low. If you don't have health insurance, either privately or through your employer, any bills that exceed your state's personal injury protection threshold are yours to pay. If you have health insurance and don't live in a state with no-fault insurance, you may not need to buy uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

I have health insurance, do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

To determine if you need UM coverage when you already have health insurance coverage, you’ll need to get answers from your health insurer on some issues, such as:

  • Will injuries from an auto accident be covered by my health insurance policy? If yes, are all medical expenses covered or are there exclusions for certain types of medical treatments?
  • If my car insurance policy's medical coverage has a deductible, will my health insurance policy pay it? You basically want to know if your PIP deductible will be covered by your health policy or if the portion of medical expenses that your PIP doesn't cover will be covered by your health insurer. For example, Florida's regular PIP coverage only pays 80% and comes with a deductible so if you lived here you'd want to find out if your health insurer would cover the other 20% and the deductible amount.
  • Should my auto medical coverages or health insurance policy be primary after an auto accident? In general, your car insurance medical coverages are primary and your health insurance policy is secondary coverage if you carry both and are injured in a car accident, but this varies by state.
  • Can my health insurance company ask for reimbursement for medical bills they covered? If both your auto insurance provider and health insurer pay out claims for medical expenses that resulted from an auto accident, then it's possible they could ask for reimbursement if there were overlapping payments paid out by both insurers for the same medical treatments. Ask your insurer about their process to determine if reimbursement would be required.
  • Will my health insurance policy provide any coverage for passengers injured in my vehicle? It's doubtful that your passengers would be covered by your health insurance, unless they are members of your family already on your health policy, but ask to get verification. If you want medical coverages for passengers, you usually need to carry medical payments coverage or PIP as part of your auto insurance policy.

Keep in mind too that if you want the right to claim for lost wages and pain suffering if hit by an uninsured motorist, then you'd need UM coverage since health insurance policies don't offer such benefits.

 

What does uninsured motorist cover?

Will uninsured motorist property damage coverage replace my totaled car?

You can use uninsured motorist property damage to cover damage to or total loss of your insured vehicle, up to the limits that are stated in your policy. That means the whole actual cash value of your vehicle may not be covered. It doesn't replace your vehicle. In some states, the limits may be quite low. In California, for example, the current limit is $3,500.

If you have collision insurance, you might not need to buy uninsured motorist property damage coverage. In some states, if you carry both collision coverage and uninsured motorist property damage, the UMPD will pay your collision deductible if you're hit by an uninsured driver.

Does uninsured motorist cover hit-and-run and miss-and-run accidents?

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage will pay for the costs of your injuries up to your policy limits in cases of a hit-and-run or miss-and-run (where a driver is forced to swerve and has an accident). But uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) does not pay for damage to your car.

To make a property damage claim under your UMPD coverage, you need an identified at-fault driver so that your insurance company can confirm that he or she does not have liability insurance.

If you have collision insurance, on the other hand, you are covered for property damage from hit-and-run and miss-and-run accidents.

Stacked coverage

What is stacked uninsured motorist coverage?

"Stacked" coverage increases the limits on your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage if you have multiple cars. Your UM limits typically cannot be higher than those on your liability coverage, but if you have two cars and stack your limits, your coverage is effectively doubled. It is a cheaper way to get more protection against uninsured motorists without having to buy higher liability limits for yourself. Stacking will increase your premium, but not by as much as higher liability limits would. Not all states allow stacked coverage.

Estimated percentage of uninsured drivers

To underscore the importance of having uninsured motorist coverage, consider that about one in eight drivers on the road in 2019 was uninsured, according to the latest data from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). The national uninsured motorist rate is 12.6%, but ranges dramatically by state. 

New Jersey had the lowest uninsured motorist rate (3.1%) and Mississippi had the highest (29.4%).

The nationwide uninsured motorist (UM) rate increased only 1.2 percentage points from 2015 to 2019, but some states had significantly higher increases: 

  • Washington; 6.9 percentage points
  • Rhode Island ; 6.8 percentage points
  • Mississippi; 6.4 percentage points

States that experienced decreases in uninsured motorist rates, include:

  • Michigan; 10.1 percentage points
  • Delaware; 2.9 percentage points

Rank State Uninsured %
1Mississippi29.4%
2Michigan25.5%
3Tennessee23.7%
4New Mexico21.8%
5Washington21.7%
6Florida20.4%
7Alabama19.5%
8Arkansas19.3%
9District of Columbia19.1%
10California16.6%
11Rhode Island16.5%
12Missouri16.4%
13Colorado16.3%
14Alaska16.1%
15Indiana15.8%
16Maryland14.1%
17Kentucky13.9%
18Oklahoma13.4%
19Wisconsin13.3%
20Idaho13.2%
21Ohio13.0%
22North Dakota13.0%
23Georgia12.4%
24Arizona11.8%
25Illinois11.8%
26Louisiana11.7%
27Iowa11.3%
28Kansas10.9%
29South Carolina10.9%
30Oregon10.7%
31Virginia10.5%
32Nevada10.4%
33Minnesota9.9%
34Hawaii9.3%
35Nebraska9.3%
36West Virginia9.2%
37Vermont8.8%
38Montana8.5%
39Delaware8.5%
40Texas8.3%
41South Dakota7.4%
42North Carolina7.4%
43Utah6.5%
44Connecticut6.3%
45New Hampshire6.1%
46Pennsylvania6.0%
47Wyoming5.8%
48Maine4.9%
49New York4.1%
50Massachusetts3.5%
51New Jersey3.1%
National   average12.6%

* The IRC report, Uninsured Motorists, 2021 Edition, examines data collected from 11 insurers representing 60% of the private passenger auto insurance market in 2019.

Source: Insurance Research Council

How uninsured drivers hike costs for everyone

"Insured drivers paid, on average, approximately $78 per insured vehicle in 2016 for insurance protection against at-fault drivers who are uninsured or who have inadequate insurance to cover the medical costs and property damage incurred by others," the IRC report on uninsured motorists states Insured drivers in 2016 paid more than $13 billion for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, according to the IRC. 

"Uninsured drivers increase the cost of insurance for those who comply with their state’s insurance requirements," said David Corum, vice president of the IRC, "and that’s not fair. Keeping auto insurance affordable is more difficult when a significant number of drivers refuse to carry their fair share of the costs."