Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if an uninsured driver hits you. 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 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 medical insurance, you will be responsible for your hospital bills.
- Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: Pays for repairs to your car if it’s damaged in an accident. If an uninsured driver damages your vehicle and you don’t have UM or collision coverage, you must pay for repairs or go after the at-fault driver in court.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
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:
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage: Helps pay for your hospital bills if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to cover the cost of hospital bills fully.
- Underinsured motorist property damage coverage: Helps pay for repairs to your car if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to cover the repairs fully.
How much coverage do I need?
Some states require drivers to buy uninsured motorist coverage, and in others, it isn’t available. In states where 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, 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.
How do coverage limits work for uninsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is usually sold in amounts that mirror the liability insurance you bought. For example, if you purchased a policy with $50,000 per person bodily injury liability coverage, up to $100,000 per accident, you would buy UM coverage in the same amounts.
If you buy less than what you carry as liability coverage, an insurer typically will require you to 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), underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) and underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD), based on CarInsurance.com’s rate analysis.
We looked at costs for two coverage sets 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.
While uninsured motorist coverage is relatively affordable, the cost varies among states. Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, New Mexico and Washington state have the most uninsured motorists, according to 2019 data from the Insurance Research Council. New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York have the fewest uninsured drivers.
Uninsured motorist coverage cost by state
FAQ: 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 must 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 very low.
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 my health insurance policy cover injuries from an auto accident? If yes, are all medical expenses covered or are there exclusions for certain medical treatments?
- If my car insurance policy’s medical coverage has a deductible, will my health insurance policy pay it? You want to know if your health policy will cover your PIP deductible or if the portion of medical expenses that your PIP doesn’t cover will be covered by your health insurer.
- Is my auto medical coverage or health insurance policy 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.
- Can my health insurance company ask for reimbursement for medical bills they covered? If your auto insurance provider and health insurer pay out claims for medical expenses that resulted from an auto accident. In that case, it’s possible they could ask for reimbursement if both insurers paid out overlapping payments for the same medical treatments. Ask your insurer about their process to determine if reimbursement would be required.
- Will my health insurance policy cover passengers injured in my vehicle? It’s doubtful that health insurance would cover passengers unless they are members of your family already on your health policy. If you want medical coverage for passengers, you need medical payments coverage or PIP as part of your auto insurance policy.
Remember, 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.
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 stated in your policy. That means the actual cash value of your car may not be covered. In some states, the limits may be 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 collision coverage and uninsured motorist property damage, the UMPD will pay your collision deductible if an uninsured driver hits you.
Does uninsured motorist coverage offer protection for hit-and-run and miss-and-run accidents?
Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage will pay for your injuries up to your policy limits in case 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 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.
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 cheaper to get more protection against uninsured motorists without buying 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.
How many uninsured drivers are there nationwide?
To underscore the importance of uninsured motorist coverage, consider that about one in eight drivers on the road in 2019 was uninsured, according to the latest insurance Research Council (IRC) data. The national uninsured motorist rate is 12.6%, but varies dramatically by state.
New Jersey had the lowest uninsured motorist rate (3.1%) and Mississippi had the highest (29.4%).
The nationwide uninsured motorist 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
|9||District of Columbia||19.1%|
* 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 increase costs for everyone
The Insurance Research Council estimates that insured drivers paid approximately $78 per insured vehicle in 2016 for insurance protection against uninsured or underinsured drivers — more than $13 billion for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
“Uninsured drivers increase the cost of insurance for those who comply with their state’s insurance requirements, and that’s not fair,” says David Corum, vice president of the IRC. “Keeping auto insurance affordable is more difficult when a significant number of drivers refuse to carry their fair share of the costs.”
– Michelle Megna contributed to this story.
Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists.” Accessed February 2023.