What Are Underinsured Motorists?
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Auto insurance protects us when we're out on the road and accidents occur. Drivers play a major role in keeping each other covered by paying car insurance premiums, which provide needed financial relief to those involved in a collision.
Whether repairing a damaged vehicle back to roadworthy condition or reimbursing an injured driver's medical payments, car insurance plays an essential role in safeguarding drivers and their passengers from monetary struggles.
But what about drivers who don't have enough car insurance to cover the damage or injuries they cause? If your vehicle is totaled and you sustain injuries, yet the at-fault driver's insurance won't reimburse you, what happens? Or what if the other driver has no insurance at all?
That's where the underinsured and uninsured motorist plan on your car insurance policy rescues you from a distressing financial situation.
Let's look at the details of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and how it keeps you protected.
Understanding car insurance
Car insurance is a financial safeguard for the many risks present on the road. Whether you're involved in a traffic collision or suffer damage or vandalism, an auto insurance policy offers monetary assistance when encountering vehicle-related property damage or injuries.
But as simple as it may sound, car insurance contains multiple coverage areas and options that safeguard against different possibilities.
Underinsured coverage goes into effect when an at-fault driver's car insurance won't cover your damages or medical expenses.
Uninsured motorist coverage is for situations where the driver who causes an accident has no insurance at all.
Liability coverage pays for property damage and others' medical payments when you cause an accident.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by events outside of your control, like weather damage, theft, or vandalism. Typically, a deductible applies before comprehensive coverage provides reimbursement, often costing $500-$1,000.
Collision coverage pays for vehicle repairs when you're in a traffic accident or collide with an object, such as a tree or street light. Similar to comprehensive coverage, a deductible usually applies before your insurance company covers the cost of needed fixes.
Medical payments coverage (MedPay) helps pay for treatment costs when you, family members driving your vehicle, or your passengers sustain injuries in an accident. Costs like hospital visits and X-rays are some of the services typically reimbursed.
Personal injury protection (PIP) also assists you with medical expenses but goes one step further by helping with costs like lost income or child care. PIP isn't available in all states.
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Usually, when someone causes an accident resulting in property damage or physical injuries, the liability coverage on their automobile insurance pays the related expenses.
But sometimes, a driver's auto insurance policy doesn't provide ample coverage for the damage they cause. The at-fault party in such a scenario is an underinsured driver.
When an underinsured driver's liability insurance doesn't cover the total cost of damages, underinsured motorist coverage saves the day, helping to make up the difference.
Underinsured motorist insurance covers two separate areas: bodily injury and property damage.
Depending on which state you live in, different criteria define underinsured drivers.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
If an uninsured driver collides with you, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage and medical expenses, you could be paying out of pocket to return things to normal. Thankfully, uninsured motorist coverage exists for situations like this, offering financial assistance for vehicle repairs or treatment for injuries.
Similar to underinsured coverage, uninsured motorist coverage consists of two different categories: bodily injury and property damage.
Usually, both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage come bundled together as part of an auto insurance policy, and many states require both.
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Do you need uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
Though not a requirement in all states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage offers essential protection from drivers without insurance or those with low coverage limits.
What if you're driving away in your new-to-you SUV, paint shining and the radio blasting your favorite song, when all of a sudden an uninsured driver strikes your left front quarter panel, causing thousands of dollars in damage?
It'll take both time and money to build your vehicle back to its original condition, and when the at-fault driver has no insurance, you could find yourself emptying your savings to pay those costs.
Similarly, an underinsured driver puts you in the same difficult situation, albeit with their insurance paying for some expenses.
In either of these scenarios, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is well worth the additional expense. Though premium amounts depend on the driver, they're minimal compared to the cost of regular liability coverage.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in summary
Though most drivers out on the highway have sufficient car insurance, those who don't can make life difficult for everyone else if they cause an accident.
Not only can a traffic collision mean days and weeks of your car residing at a repair facility, but you could also need expensive medical treatment to recover from injuries.
And when someone has no car insurance or insufficient car insurance, the possibility exists that you're financially responsible for damages you didn't cause. Though it seems unfair, that's just what could happen if an uninsured or underinsured motorist collides with you.
Thankfully, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage comes to the rescue in situations like these, helping with your costs so you can return things to normal.
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April 15, 2022
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