If you get into an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance, who pays for your property damage and injuries?
Although 48 states require auto insurance as a condition of driving on public roads, not everyone complies with the law. Across the U.S., an estimated 12 percent of drivers lack insurance. What happens if one of them causes damage to your vehicle or property?
Uninsured motorist coverage protects against this type of incident, reimbursing you for damages or medical bills that aren’t covered by the other driver’s policy, or when the other driver doesn’t have any insurance at all.
If you lack uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll be responsible for these damages out of pocket, not to mention any injuries you incurred. That’s why it’s important to get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, even if it’s not required in your state.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will reimburse you for bodily injuries or property damages in accidents caused by drivers with no or insufficient insurance, including hit-and-run accidents. They are often combined into a single coverage.
It’s a bit more complicated than it seems.
Just like liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is split into two types.
If you get into an accident with someone who lacks insurance, you can file a claim with your own provider, who will reimburse you for your bodily injuries and property damage under uninsured motorist coverage. If you get into an accident with someone who has insufficient insurance, meaning that their liability limits don’t cover your bills, you can also file a claim with your own insurer under underinsured motorist coverage. This way, you won’t have to pay out of pocket for your costs.
Neither coverage type has a deductible, so once you file a claim, your auto insurance company can begin contributing immediately, up to the limit you’ve selected.
Here’s a complete list of what uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage covers:
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage does not cover the following:
The main benefit of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is that if you get into an accident with someone with no or insufficient insurance, you won’t have to pay for your property damages and injuries out of pocket. However, you will have to pay extra for this coverage, which may feel unfair, as it’s not your fault if someone else doesn’t follow the law.
See below for your state’s uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage requirements and limit minimums, if any.
|State||Are insurance companies required to offer uninsured motorist coverage?||Is uninsured motorist coverage required?||Is underinsured motorist coverage required?||Minimum per-person uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage||Minimum per-accident uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage|
|Alabama||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Alaska||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Arizona||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Arkansas||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|California||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Colorado||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Delaware||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|District of Columbia||Yes||Yes||No||$25,000||$50,000|
|Florida||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Georgia||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Hawaii||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Indiana||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Iowa||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Kentucky||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Louisiana||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Michigan||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Mississippi||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Montana||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Nevada||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|New Hampshire||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|New Jersey||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|New Mexico||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Ohio||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Oklahoma||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Pennsylvania||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Rhode Island||No||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Tennessee||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Texas||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Utah||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Virginia||No||No||No||Not required if you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee||Not required if you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee|
|Washington||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
|Wyoming||Yes||No||No||Not required||Not required|
Figuring out how much auto insurance you need is easy in this case. Set your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage limit to be the same as your bodily injury and property damage liability limits, since they cover the same items.2
If you have separate bodily injury and property damage limits, this is known as a split limit divided into three numbers:
However, you can opt for a single limit — one number that encompasses all of the property damage and bodily injury insurance — that can be applied as needed.3
Match your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits with your bodily injury and property damage limits.
Say you parked your car on the side of the road while you went inside a coffee shop to grab your favorite iced chai. By the time you’ve returned to your car, your bumper is destroyed with no one around. You’ve experienced a hit-and-run.
Let’s say you had a single limit of uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000 and the damages cost $1,000, the high end cost of replacing a bumper.4 Your company would pay $1,000 worth of damages, leaving you with $99,000 worth of coverage. You wouldn’t be responsible for a deductible, meaning you could receive compensation and get your bumper replaced quickly.
Follow these steps to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your policy:
Here’s how to make an uninsured and underinsured motorist claim once you’d added this coverage:
|State||Statute of limitations for property damage claims (in years)||Statute of limitations for personal injury claims (in years)|
|District of Columbia||3||3|
Do you have multiple cars on your policy? If so, some states allow you to “stack” your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, meaning you multiply your limit to the number of cars on the policy.
|State||Stacked or unstacked?|
|Delaware||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|District of Columbia||Unstacked|
|Georgia||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|New Jersey||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|New York||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|North Carolina||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|Oklahoma||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|Oregon||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|Tennessee||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|Texas||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
|Utah||Stacked, but must be across multiple policies|
Let’s say you have three cars and limits of $25,000 and $50,000. If you live in a state that allows stacking like Wyoming, your limits would increase to $75,000 and $150,000. However, if you live in a state like Washington, they would remain the same.
Even though driving without insurance has legal and financial consequences, many people don’t obey the law. See below for the Insurance Research Council’s estimated number of uninsured drivers in your state.
|State||Estimated percentage of uninsured drivers in 2019, rounded to nearest whole number (high to low)|
|District of Columbia||19%|
In Mississippi, which has the highest estimated rate of uninsured drivers at 29 percent, the penalties for driving without proof of insurance are a $1,000 fine and a license suspension for one year or until you can provide proof of insurance.8
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is just one part of a larger policy. Learn more about auto insurance coverages you need to be protected while you drive, or keep reading to learn more in our auto insurance FAQs.
We want to clear up the biggest misconceptions and questions about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage covers these damages:
Uninsured motorist coverage is necessary because an estimated 12 percent of drivers across the U.S. are uninsured. That means that if an uninsured driver causes an accident involving your vehicle, they can’t pay for your bodily injuries and medical bills. If you lack uninsured motorist coverage, you’d have to pay out of pocket.
The only reason why you would reject uninsured motorist coverage is because you don’t want to pay the extra cost. Certainly, it’s unfair that you have to pay for someone else’s disregard for the law. However, it’s best to bite the bullet and protect your assets by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage, even with the added cost.
Comparing collision and uninsured motorist coverage is difficult because they cover different areas. Collision coverage covers damages to your vehicle in accidents you’ve caused, whereas uninsured motorist coverage covers both property damage and bodily injuries in accidents that an uninsured motorist caused. It’s best to have both coverages if you can afford them.
That being said, if you are a good driver and want to risk being hit by an uninsured motorist and having to pay out of pocket for damages and injuries, you can drop collision coverage. It’s also not necessary for older cars, cars that don’t run, or cars in storage. However, if you live in a state with a low number of uninsured drivers and no requirement, it would be better to drop uninsured motorist coverage and stick with collision coverage.
Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Geico. (2022).
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) Coverage. AARP. (2022).
Liability Insurance. Progressive. (2022).
Car Bumper Cost. Costhelper Cars. (2022).
Car Accidents: Statutes of Limitations. Enjuris. (2022).
Stacked Vs. Unstacked Car Insurance. Enjuris. (2020, Jun).
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar).
Auto Insurance. Mississippi Insurance Department. (2022).