Do I Need Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Your best friend told you a car accident horror story yesterday. He was headed to his weekly yoga class and was anticipating a peaceful morning, but that all changed when another driver hit him without warning. And the worst part? That driver didn’t have enough car insurance. Your best friend’s car was totaled and at-fault driver was only carrying the minimum amount of liability coverage. You start to wonder, what if that happened to me? Do I need underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)? While only you can answer that question for yourself, it is important to protect yourself against uninsured and underinsured motorists.
The following information will help you make that decision. Below you will learn about the different types of UIM coverage, including limitations and where to go if you have specific legal questions.
Let’s Talk Basic Uninsured Motorist Coverage
First of all, UIM insurance is not uninsured motorist coverage, but rather a part of it. Uninsured coverage kicks in when you have an accident with a driver who lacks any insurance, while underinsured motorist coverage is meant for situations where the at-fault driver has insurance, but not enough to cover your damages. When you are pricing out your car insurance coverage with you insurer, be sure to ask about this policy-type and the different levels. Why? Again, because UIM is part of this larger, three-part insurance coverage type known simply as "uninsured motorist" (UM). In many states, UM coverage consists of:
- Underinsured Motorist insurance (UIM)
- Uninsured Motorist insurance (UMI)
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage insurance (UMPD)
Keep in mind, UIM, UMI, and UMPD coverage is not required in all states, like basic minimum liability coverage. Be sure to check the insurance laws in your state to learn more.
UIM Coverage Defined
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) becomes an important tool when you have a car accident and it is the other driver’s fault. Here, the at-fault driver does have car insurance, but their policy limits aren’t enough to pay out for all of your expenses. You can attempt to sue this driver for the balance in a personal injury lawsuit, but if the at-fault driver doesn’t have assets from which to draw your damages award, assuming you win the lawsuit, you won’t be able to collect. UIM coverage effectively helps prevent that shortfall by providing compensation to you for the difference up to your own policy limits. An important note: this only applies if your underinsured driver coverage is greater than the negligent driver’s policy limits.
UMI Coverage Defined
When you purchase UMI insurance, you are buying coverage to protect yourself from damage caused by other drivers who do not carry any car insurance. The specific damages we are talking about here are medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
UMPD Coverage Defined
This type of coverage applies to property damaged as a result of a car accident with an uninsured motorist. We are talking about your car repairs and even personal property inside your vehicle under some policies. It also applies to underinsured drivers as well.
Should I Purchase UIM?
While we can’t tell you what is best for you, we can strongly advise you to consider purchasing some form of UIM coverage, particularly if you live in a state known for having a high rate of uninsured drivers or states with lower mandatory minimum liability coverage. Even when at-fault drivers carry the basic minimum amount of liability coverage, it may not be enough to cover all of your expenses. Don’t be left paying for injuries and damages that aren’t your fault. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney now about UIM coverage and policy limit amounts to learn more.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Related Resources
- Single Car Accident: Am I Always At Fault?
- Contributory and Comparative Negligence
- Fault and Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents
Confused about Underinsured Motorist Coverage? Speak with an Attorney
Are you still a little confused about underinsured motorist coverage? Not to worry. If you have additional questions about this or any type of insurance coverage, it is wise to speak with a skilled personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.