May 10, 2022

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

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 and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

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.

What’s the Difference Between Uninsured vs. Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

It’s a bit more complicated than it seems.

  • Uninsured: Uninsured means that the person lacks any auto insurance and is driving without insurance. Doing so is illegal except in New Hampshire and Virginia, the only states with no car insurance requirement.
  • Underinsured: Underinsured means that the at-fault party doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages or injuries. That either means that their liability limits are too low to cover your bills completely, or that they’re less than or equal to your underinsured motorist coverage limit. In the latter case, your underinsured motorist coverage would cover the gap between your bills and their liability limits.

Types of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Just like liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is split into two types.

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury and underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI/UIMBI) coverage: Bodily injury coverage will cover your passengers’ and your medical bills, pain, suffering, funeral expenses, and lost income.1
  • Uninsured motorist property damage and underinsured motorist property damage (UMPD/UIMPD) coverage: Property damage coverage applies to your car repairs, your collision coverage deductible if you had to use it, the cost of renting a car, and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to your property damage.

How Does It Work?

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.

What Does It Cover?

Here’s a complete list of what uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage covers:

  • Car repairs
  • Collision deductibles
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses related to property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Rental car cost

What Doesn’t It Cover?

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage does not cover the following:

  • Intentional accidents
  • Damage from events other than collisions
  • Incidents involving people with sufficient insurance

Pros and Cons

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.

What States Require It?

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
Connecticut Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
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
Idaho Yes Yes No $25,000 $50,000
Illinois No Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
Indiana No No No Not required Not required
Iowa Yes No No Not required Not required
Kansas Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
Kentucky Yes No No Not required Not required
Louisiana Yes No No Not required Not required
Maine Yes Yes Yes $50,000 $100,000
Maryland Yes Yes Yes $30,000 $60,000
Massachusetts Yes Yes No $20,000 $40,000
Michigan Yes No No Not required Not required
Minnesota Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
Mississippi Yes No No Not required Not required
Missouri Yes Yes No $25,000 $50,000
Montana Yes No No Not required Not required
Nebraska Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
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
New York Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
North Carolina Yes Yes Yes $30,000 $60,000
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
Ohio Yes No No Not required Not required
Oklahoma Yes No No Not required Not required
Oregon Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
Pennsylvania Yes No No Not required Not required
Rhode Island No No No Not required Not required
South Carolina Yes Yes No $25,000 $50,000
South Dakota Yes Yes Yes $25,000 $50,000
Tennessee Yes No No Not required Not required
Texas Yes No No Not required Not required
Utah Yes No No Not required Not required
Vermont Yes Yes Yes $50,000 $100,000
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
West Virginia Yes Yes No $25,000 $50,000
Wisconsin Yes Yes No $25,000 $50,000
Wyoming Yes No No Not required Not required

Limits

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:

  • The maximum bodily injury payment per person
  • The maximum bodily injury payment for everyone involved in the entire accident
  • The maximum total property damage payment for all property in the accident

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

TIP

Match your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits with your bodily injury and property damage limits.

Example

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.

Adding It to Your Policy

Follow these steps to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your policy:

  1. Contact your insurance agent.
  2. Ask for them to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your policy with limits equal to your bodily injury and property damage coverage.
  3. Pay your increased premium. Your coverage will begin on your new policy’s effective date.

Making an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim

Here’s how to make an uninsured and underinsured motorist claim once you’d added this coverage:

  • Call the police. Contact the police and have them file a police report, granting you a copy. You’ll want a police report for your claim. Document the officers’ names and badge numbers as well.
  • Collect evidence. Write down the damages done, when they occurred, and what the weather conditions were. Take pictures of the damages.
  • File in time. Don’t dawdle. You have a finite amount of time to file your claim before your statute of limitations runs out.
State Statute of limitations for property damage claims (in years) Statute of limitations for personal injury claims (in years)
Alabama 2 2
Alaska 2 2
Arizona 2 2
Arkansas 3 3
California 3 2
Colorado 3 3
Connecticut 2 2
Delaware 2 2
District of Columbia 3 3
Florida 4 4
Georgia 4 2
Hawaii 2 2
Idaho 3 2
Illinois 5 2
Indiana 2 2
Iowa 5 2
Kansas 2 2
Kentucky 2 1
Louisiana 1 1
Maine 6 6
Maryland 3 3
Massachusetts 3 3
Michigan 3 3
Minnesota 6 2
Mississippi 3 3
Missouri 5 5
Montana 2 3
Nebraska 4 4
Nevada 3 2
New Hampshire 3 3
New Jersey 6 6
New Mexico 4 3
New York 3 3
North Carolina 3 3
North Dakota 6 6
Ohio 4 4
Oklahoma 2 2
Oregon 6 2
Pennsylvania 2 2
Rhode Island 10 3
South Carolina 3 3
South Dakota 6 3
Tennessee 3 1
Texas 2 2
Utah 3 4
Vermont 3 3
Virginia 5 2
Washington 3 3
West Virginia 2 2
Wisconsin 6 3
Wyoming 4 45
  • Contact your agent. You can file a claim online or through the mail, or contact your insurance agent directly.
  • Meet with an adjuster. You’ll either meet with an adjuster, who can examine your car’s damages in person, or send them the photos you took. They’ll determine your total compensation.
  • Repair your car. In the meantime, get your car repaired and rent a car, if necessary.
  • Wait for compensation. Your company could either send you to an in-network repair shop, meaning it pays for repairs directly, or reimburse you for your repairs. Unfortunately, there’s no gold standard for how long insurance claims take, so the sooner you file, the better.

How Stacking Works

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?
Alabama Stacked
Alaska Unstacked
Arizona Unstacked
Arkansas Stacked
California Unstacked
Colorado Stacked
Connecticut Unstacked
Delaware Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
District of Columbia Unstacked
Florida Stacked
Georgia Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
Hawaii Stacked
Idaho Unstacked
Illinois Unstacked
Indiana Stacked
Iowa Unstacked
Kansas Unstacked
Kentucky Stacked
Louisiana Unstacked
Maine Unstacked
Maryland Unstacked
Massachusetts Unstacked
Michigan Unstacked
Minnesota Unstacked
Mississippi Stacked
Missouri Stacked
Montana Stacked
Nebraska Unstacked
Nevada Stacked
New Hampshire Stacked
New Jersey Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
New Mexico Stacked
New York Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
North Carolina Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
North Dakota Unstacked
Ohio Stacked
Oklahoma Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
Oregon Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
Pennsylvania Stacked
Rhode Island Stacked
South Carolina Stacked
South Dakota Unstacked
Tennessee Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
Texas Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
Utah Stacked, but must be across multiple policies
Vermont Stacked
Virginia Stacked
Washington Unstacked
West Virginia Stacked
Wisconsin Stacked
Wyoming Stacked6

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.

Number of Uninsured Drivers by State

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)
Mississippi 29%
Michigan 26%
Tennessee 24%
New Mexico 22%
Washington 22%
Florida 20%
Alabama 20%
Arkansas 19%
District of Columbia 19%
California 17%
Rhode Island 17%
Missouri 16%
Colorado 16%
Alaska 16%
Indiana 16%
Maryland 14%
Kentucky 14%
Oklahoma 13%
Wisconsin 13%
Idaho 13%
North Dakota 13%
Ohio 13%
Georgia 12%
Arizona 12%
Illinois 12%
Louisiana 12%
Iowa 11%
Kansas 11%
South Carolina 11%
Oregon 11%
Virginia 11%
Nevada 10%
Minnesota 10%
Hawaii 9%
Nebraska 9%
West Virginia 9%
Vermont 9%
Delaware 9%
Montana 9%
Texas 8%
North Carolina 7%
South Dakota 7%
Utah 7%
Connecticut 6%
New Hampshire 6%
Pennsylvania 6%
Wyoming 6%
Maine 5%
New York 4%
Massachusetts 4%
New Jersey 3%7

DID YOU KNOW?

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

We want to clear up the biggest misconceptions and questions about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

What does uninsured motorist coverage cover?

Uninsured motorist coverage covers these damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Car repairs
  • Collision deductibles
  • Rental car costs
  • Funeral expenses
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses related to property damage

Is uninsured motorist coverage really necessary?

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.

Why would you reject uninsured motorist coverage?

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.

Is it better to have collision or uninsured motorist coverage?

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.

Citations

  1. Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Geico. (2022).
    https://www.geico.com/information/aboutinsurance/auto/uninsured-underinsured-motorist/

  2. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) Coverage. AARP. (2022).
    https://www.thehartford.com/aarp/car-insurance/uninsured-underinsured-motorist-coverage

  3. Liability Insurance. Progressive. (2022).
    https://www.progressivecommercial.com/coverages/liability/

  4. Car Bumper Cost. Costhelper Cars. (2022).
    https://cars.costhelper.com/fix-car-bumper-cost.html

  5. Car Accidents: Statutes of Limitations. Enjuris. (2022).
    https://www.enjuris.com/car-accident/statutes-of-limitations.html

  6. Stacked Vs. Unstacked Car Insurance. Enjuris. (2020, Jun).
    https://www.allstate.com/tr/car-insurance/stacked-vs-unstacked-car-insurance.aspx

  7. One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar).
    https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf

  8. Auto Insurance. Mississippi Insurance Department. (2022).
    https://www.mid.ms.gov/consumers/auto-insurance.aspx