About one in eight drivers don’t carry car insurance, according to a 2021 report from the Insurance Research Council. And what happens if you’re injured in a car crash caused by a driver who doesn’t carry liability car insurance? You can be stuck with some hefty out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills and health insurance deductibles.
If your injuries cause you to miss work, you can also lose valuable wages.
Fortunately, there’s special car insurance to alleviate this problem: Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage pay for medical bills and other expenses for you and your passengers if you’re in a car accident caused by:
- A driver who doesn’t carry any liability car insurance.
- A driver who doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover your medical bills.
- A driver whose insurance company denies coverage or goes out of business.
Uninsured motorist coverage can pay for:
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages if you can’t work because of the car accident.
- Pain and suffering compensation.
- Funeral expenses.
- In some states, car damage.
Some states require uninsured motorist coverage, while other states require that your insurance company offer you the coverage, which you can typically reject in writing if you don’t want it. If it’s optional in your state, UM coverage is worth considering.
Breaking Down Uninsured Motorist Coverage Variations
There are four main types of coverage grouped under uninsured motorist coverage:
|Insurance type||How it works|
|Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UM or UMBI)||Pays when an at-fault driver causes a car accident.|
|Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)||Covers damage to your car if it’s hit by someone without insurance. Some states allow you to use UMPD to cover hit-and-run accidents.|
|Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIM or UIMBI)||Pays when another driver causes a car accident but they do not carry enough liability insurance to cover all your medical bills, lost wages, etc.|
|Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD)||Covers damage to your car if it’s hit by someone who does not carry enough liability insurance.|
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Limits
UM coverage is usually expressed as two numbers, such as 100/300. This translates to:
- $100,000 bodily injury coverage per person.
- $300,000 bodily injury coverage per accident.
So if you have 100/300 and four passengers are injured, with high medical bills, your maximum UM payout is $300,000. However, you can generally turn to health insurance after your UM coverage is exhausted.
How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?
If your state requires uninsured motorist coverage, you must buy at least the state’s minimum. The minimum will typically be UM coverage in amounts that match your liability coverage amounts. For example, if you have liability limits of $100,000 for injury to one person and $300,000 for injuries in one accident (known as 100/300), you would buy 100/300 in UM coverage.
Here’s a chart with state requirements for uninsured motorist coverage.
State Laws for Uninsured Motorist Coverage
|State||Requirements for buying UM or being offered UM||Can you reject UM in writing?||Minimum UM coverage amount||Is UMPD required? If so, minimum coverage amount||UMPD deductible|
|Alabama||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||No||N/A|
|Alaska||Must be offered||Yes||50/100||You can reject UMPD in writing; $25,000 minimum if you buy it||$250|
|Arizona||Must be offered||Yes, on a state-approved form||UM 15/30||No||N/A|
|Arkansas||UM must be offered. UIM must be offered if you buy UM.||Yes||UM – 25/50||You can reject UMPD in writing; $25,000 minimum if you buy it||$200|
|California||Must be offered||Yes||30/60||You can reject UMPD coverage||If you have collision coverage, UMPD only pays the deductible not covered by collision insurance, up to $3,500.|
|Colorado||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||May be offered at your request||N/A|
|Connecticut||Must be offered||Yes||20/40||No||N/A|
|Delaware||Must be offered||Yes||15/30||Acceptance of UM includes UMPD; $5,000||$250 (unless otherwise agreed in writing)|
|District of Columbia||UM is required||You can reject only UIM||UM – 25/50||Yes; $5,000||$200|
|Florida||Must be offered||Yes||10/20||N/A||N/A|
|Georgia||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||Yes; $25,000||$250, $500 or $1,000|
|Hawaii||Must be offered||Yes||UM – 20/40||N/A||N/A|
|Idaho||Must be offered||Yes||UM – 25/50||N/A||N/A|
|Illinois||Required||No||UM – 25/50||UMPD must be offered if you do not have collision insurance (you can reject in writing); $15,000||$250|
|Indiana||Must be offered||Yes||UM – 25/50 UIM – $50,000||You can reject UMPD; $10,000||Choose no deductible or a max of $300; deductible waived if your car was hit while legally parked and unoccupied|
|Iowa||Must be offered||Yes||UM – 20/40||N/A||N/A|
|Kansas||Required||You can only reject coverage that exceeds 25/50||25/50||N/A||N/A|
|Kentucky||UM must be offered; UIM is available upon request||Yes||25/50 or a $60,000 single limit for both UM and UMPD||N/A||N/A|
|Louisiana||Must be offered||Yes||15/30||UMPD available but not required||$250|
|Maryland||Required||N/A||30/60||UMPD is required; $15,000||$50 – $250 (options in $50 increments)|
|Minnesota||Required||N/A||UM – 25/50||N/A||N/A|
|Mississippi||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||UMPD can be rejected; $25,000 minimum if you buy it||$200|
|Montana||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||N/A||N/A|
|Nebraska||Required||N/A||UM – 25/50||N/A||N/A|
|Nevada||Must be offered||Yes||25/30||N/A||N/A|
|New Hampshire||Must be offered||You can reject UM in excess/umbrella policies only||25/50||Yes; $25,000||N/A|
|New Jersey||Required on standard policies||N/A||UM – 15/30||Yes; $5,000||N/A|
|New Mexico||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||Yes; $10,000||$250 maximum|
|New York||UM required, UIM is optional||N/A||25/50 for injury, 50/100 for death||N/A||N/A|
|North Carolina||UM required. UIM required if UM coverage exceeds 30/60||N/A||UM – 30/60||Yes; $25,000||$100|
|Ohio||An insurer decides whether to offer it||N/A||25/50||Available upon your request, not to exceed $7,500||$250|
|Oklahoma||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||N/A||N/A|
|Oregon||UM is required. UIM is required if UM coverage is more than 25/50||N/A||25/50||Yes; $20,000||$200; $300 in hit-and-run claims|
|Pennsylvania||Must be offered||Yes||15/30||N/A||N/A|
|Rhode Island||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||Not required but $25,000 minimum coverage if you buy it||$200|
|South Carolina||UM is required||You can reject UIM||25/50||Yes; $25,000||$200|
|Tennessee||Must be offered||Yes||25/50 or a $60,000 single limit||Yes; $15,000||$200|
|Texas||Must be offered||Yes||30/60||Yes; $25,000||$250|
|Utah||Must be offered||Yes||25/65 for UM; 10/20 for UIM||Required if you do not have collision coverage||$250|
|Washington||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||Required if you don’t have collision coverage, minimum of $10,000 in coverage||$100; $300 for hit-and-run claims|
|West Virginia||UM is required; UIM is optional||N/A||25/50||Yes; $10,000||$300|
|Wisconsin||UM is mandatory||UIM can be rejected||25/50 for UM; 50/100 for UIM||N/A||N/A|
|Wyoming||Must be offered||Yes||25/50||N/A||N/A|
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Necessary?
If your state doesn’t require UM coverage, you might be wondering if you should add it to your auto insurance policy.
Here are some ways to decide:
Do you have other insurance to cover car accident injuries? The primary function of uninsured motorist coverage is to pay medical bills after a car accident with an uninsured driver. If you have good health insurance, you may not feel you need UM coverage. But UM protection might be attractive if you have a high deductible health plan and would pay a large amount of money for a hospitalization.
UM is a way to cover car accident injuries without paying co-insurance, copays and health insurance deductibles. UM also provides benefits that health insurance won’t, like money for pain and suffering and lost wages.
The average claim payment for UM for injuries is $32,879, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ most recent report.
Do you have other insurance to cover car damage? In states where uninsured motorist property damage coverage is available, you may not need it. Collision insurance will also cover damage to your car if someone else hits it, and it will cover a wide variety of circumstances, not just an uninsured driver.
Does your state have a lot of drivers without insurance? Approximately one in eight drivers nationwide are uninsured, but there’s wide variation among states, according to the Insurance Research Council. Mississippi has the highest rate of uninsured drivers (29.4%) and New Jersey the lowest (3.1%).
Estimated Percentage of Uninsured Drivers by State
|State||Percentage of uninsured drivers|
|District of Columbia||19.10%|
Are Hit-and-Run Accidents Covered by UM?
A hit-and-run accident is typically defined as a car accident where the driver leaves the scene of the accident without exchanging insurance or contact information. A hit-and-run can occur between:
- A car and property, like your fence or mailbox
- A car and pedestrian
Depending on your state, uninsured motorist insurance may cover damages if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. A hit-and-run is generally covered under two uninsured motorist coverage types:
- Uninsured motorist property damage pays for repairs if your car or property is damaged after a hit-and-run accident.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury pays for medical bills if you’re injured in a hit-and-run accident.
Keep in mind, UMPD isn’t available in all states. In states where UMPD is available, it may not cover hit-and-run accidents. If your state allows UMPD coverage for hit-and-run accidents, there may be a deductible.
The following states won’t allow UMPD coverage for hit-and-run accidents, but you can use your collision coverage to pay for car repairs:
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, here are some steps you can take:
- Pull over in a safe area. Make sure you and your passengers are OK. It’s not a good idea to chase the other driver.
- Record as many details about the accident as possible. Even if you didn’t get a look at the license plate, a description of the car (make, model, color) and driver can help during the insurance claim process. You want to take note of the time and location of the accident and get the contact information from any eye witnesses.
- Call the police.
- Take photos of your car damage and the scene.
- Call your insurance company.
Should I Buy UM Coverage for Property Damage?
Unless your state requires UMPD coverage, you probably don’t need it if you already have collision insurance. That’s because collision coverage pays for damage to your car no matter who caused the accident. UMPD only pays in certain cases, but it may come with a lower deductible than what you chose for a collision deductible.
The average claim payment for UMPD is $1,926, according to the most recent numbers from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
What Does it Mean to “Stack” Insurance?
Stacked insurance is when you make claims on two uninsured motorist policies. Stacking allows you to get more insurance money to cover medical bills if you’re injured in a car accident. Not all states allow stacking. Some car insurance companies have an “anti-stacking provision,” meaning you won’t be able to make multiple UM claims for a single car accident.
If you can stack insurance, there are usually two ways to do this:.
- Stack coverage for two vehicles that are insured under one policy.
- Stack coverage for two vehicles that are insured under two policies in your name.
Here are examples of how stacking might work.
Stacking insurance within one policy
Let’s say you have coverage for two cars on the same policy, both with $100,000 in UM bodily injury coverage. If you’re injured when an uninsured driver causes an accident with one of your cars, you can “stack” coverage and claim up to $200,000 in benefits.
Stacking insurance from two policies
In this scenario, you have coverage for two cars under two separate policies, both with $100,000 in UM coverage. If you’re injured when an uninsured driver hits one of your cars, you would stack UM benefits up to $200,000. Both policies must be in your name.
Here are some other things to consider about stacking insurance:
- You typically have to pay more to stack. You also need to elect stacking when you buy or renew a policy. You can’t add and use stacking after an accident.
- UM coverage is for car accidents caused by others. If you’re injured in a car accident that you caused, you can’t claim any UM benefits or stack.
Here’s what to do if you’re making a claim by stacking uninsured motorist coverage:
- If you’re injured in a car accident with a driver who does not have liability insurance, you’d make a claim on your own UM coverage for medical bills. If that doesn’t cover all your medical bills, you stack UM coverage from another car you own or another car insurance policy under your name.
- If you’re injured in a car accident with a driver who has some liability insurance but it doesn’t cover all of your medical bills, you first make a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance for your injuries. When that policy has paid out its maximum coverage, you then turn to your own UIM coverage. If you exhaust one of your UIM coverages, you stack from another car you own or from another car insurance policy in your name.
Understand the Payout from an Uninsured Motorist Claim
It’s good to understand how uninsured motorist claims generally work, so that you’re not taken by surprise if you receive less than you expect. The underinsured motorist coverage amount you can claim is generally reduced by the amount of money you receive from another driver’s liability insurance. Here’s an example:
- Let’s say you have $100,000 of UM coverage and you receive $50,000 from the other driver’s liability insurance, and total medical bills are $300,000.
- Your UM coverage would likely only pay out $50,000 ($100,000 UM – $50,000 at-fault driver’s liability), meaning $200,000 wouldn’t be covered.
- You generally don’t get your full UM ($100,000) plus the driver’s liability coverage ($50,000).
- In this scenario, you might be expecting $150,000 total from insurance and get only $100,000.
Some states, like Connecticut, have exceptions. Connecticut drivers can get UM “conversion” coverage, which means their UM payout will not be reduced by an at-fault driver’s liability insurance. Using the accident example above, a driver with conversion coverage would get their full UM ($100,000) plus the other driver’s liability payout ($50,000) for a total of $150,000.
States such as Georgia offer you a choice. Georgia drivers are offered “uninsured motorist coverage—added on to at-fault liability limits.” You can reject this in writing and instead select “uninsured motorist coverage—reduced by at-fault liability limits.”
How Do I Make an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
If you’re in a car accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have any or enough liability insurance, contact your car insurance company and file a claim under your UM coverage (provided you have coverage).
Here are a few examples of UM accidents and claims.
- You’re at a stop light and rear-ended by a driver who doesn’t have insurance. Since the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, file a UM claim with your car insurance company. You would make a claim under your uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage for your medical expenses and your uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage, if you have it, for damage to your car.
- You’re a pedestrian in a crosswalk and hit by a driver who does not have enough liability insurance to cover all of your medical expenses. First, make a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company, or sue the driver, and get money from their liability insurance. Then you would file a claim with your own car insurance company under your underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) to cover additional expenses.
- Your vehicle is parked in a public parking garage. You find it has been hit and damaged, but the other driver didn’t leave their information. In this hit-and-run scenario, you would file a claim under your UMPD coverage (if your state allows it). If you don’t carry UMPD or your state doesn’t allow you to use it for hit-and-runs, file a claim through your collision coverage.
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