A Guide to Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Car insurance, in its most basic form, is designed to protect the other driver in the event you cause an accident. This is what bodily injury liability coverage and property damage coverage is all about, and in an ideal world, this basic cover would be enough to protect every driver.

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But this isn’t an ideal world and it’s certainly not an ideal country, because an alarming number of drivers on America’s roads are not insured and by skipping this basic requirement they are putting everyone at risk.

Fortunately, there is a way you can protect yourself against their negligence and it comes in the form of uninsured motorist cover.

How Many Uninsured Drivers Are There?

According to recent estimates, around 13% of drivers on American roads are uninsured. This figure has remained relatively consistent over the years and even if you go back thirty years, it remains in the 12.5% to 14.5% range. This means that roughly 1 in every 7.7 drivers you encounter will not be insured. 

What’s more worrying is that uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in hit-and-run accidents, as they will be keen to escape the scene of an accident, and they may also be more prone to reckless driving, which means the of being in an accident with an uninsured driver are probably higher than that 13% would suggest.

To make matters worse, that’s just the national average and in some states, close to a quarter of all drivers are not insured. To give you an idea of how much risk these drivers are to you, take a look at these state-wide statistics. These have been taken from recent state averages and then rounded to the nearest percentage point:

  • Alabama = 18%
  • Alaska = 15%
  • Arizona = 12%
  • Arkansas = 17%
  • California = 15%
  • Colorado = 13%
  • Connecticut = 9% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Delaware = 11% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • District of Columbia = 16%
  • Florida = 27%
  • Georgia = 12%
  • Hawaii = 11%
  • Idaho = 8%
  • Illinois = 14% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Indiana = 17%
  • Iowa = 9%
  • Kansas = 7% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Kentucky = 11%
  • Louisiana = 13%
  • Maine = 4% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Maryland = 12% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Massachusetts = 6% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Michigan = 20%
  • Minnesota = 11% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Mississippi = 24%
  • Missouri = 14% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Montana = 10%
  • Nebraska = 7% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Nevada = 11%
  • New Hampshire = 10% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • New Jersey = 15% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • New Mexico = 21%
  • New York = 6% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • North Carolina = 7% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • North Dakota = 7% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Ohio = 12%
  • Oklahoma = 10%
  • Oregon = 13% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Pennsylvania = 8%
  • Rhode Island = 15%
  • South Carolina = 9% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • South Dakota = 8% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Tennessee = 20%
  • Texas = 14%
  • Utah = 8%
  • Vermont = 7% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Virginia = 10% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Washington = 17%
  • West Virginia = 10% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Wisconsin = 14% – underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage required by the state
  • Wyoming = 8%

What Happens if You’re Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

It doesn’t matter how safe and aware you are on the roads; anyone can be hit by an uninsured driver. If you’re waiting at an intersection, minding your own business, and an uninsured driver plows into the back of your vehicle, you may be the one left to foot the bill.

Those expenses can include extensive medical bills, ones that would be covered by bodily injury liability if the driver was insured. To counter this, you need uninsured motorist cover, also known as underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

What is Uninsured Motorist Cover?

Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage is required in many US states, as outlined above. It will cover you up to the policy limits for injuries suffered in a car accident where an uninsured driver was at fault. 

There are several types of uninsured motorist coverage and these are offered by most car insurance companies in most states.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

With underinsured motorist coverage, the insurance policy will cover the difference if the driver’s insurance falls short. Even if the driver is insured, they may not have enough liability insurance to cover all of your damages.

Uninsured Motorist Cover for Property Damage (UMPD)

Typically, uninsured motorist coverage will only cover you for bodily injury coverage, but uninsured motorist cover for property damage will cover you for damage to your vehicle. This only applies, however, if the driver stops and can be identified and not in the event of a hit-and-run.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (UMBI)

If an uninsured driver does harm to you or other individuals covered under your car insurance policy, this will cover the costs. It will pay for medical bills and will also cover you and other covered persons for lost income and other personal damages.

Bottom Line: Do I Need Uninsured/Underinsured Driver Insurance?

If your state laws require it, you need underinsured/uninsured coverage. You should also consider it if you live in a state that has a high number of uninsured drivers, as is the case with Florida, which tops the list for uninsured drivers but doesn’t require this form of cover.

In other instances, you should consider what would happen if you were hit by an uninsured driver and you didn’t have adequate insurance coverage. Could you cover the additional medical expenses and property damage; do you have alternative options? 

Uninsured motorist insurance may be a cheap and worthwhile addition to your auto insurance policy, but if you’re looking to save a few dollars, believe you’ll be covered elsewhere, and your state doesn’t require it, you can skip it.