Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your costs if you’re hit by a driver who can’t pay for the damages.
It’s not rare to come across an uninsured driver on the road. According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers doesn’t carry insurance.
Unfortunately, getting into an accident with one of those drivers can cost you. To protect yourself, consider buying uninsured motorist coverage.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
Normally when someone hits your car, they’ll give you their insurance information so that you can file a claim with their provider.
But what if that driver doesn’t have insurance? You’d have to collect money from them, and that can be a maddening process. You may even have to litigate.
This is why uninsured motorist coverage can be valuable. If another driver doesn’t have insurance, you won’t have to liaise with them to receive compensation. Instead, your own insurance will cover your expenses.
There are two types of uninsured motorist coverage.
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage. UMBI covers your medical bills and other costs like lost wages. When buying this insurance, you’ll need to decide if you want split-limit or combined single limit coverage.
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage. UMPD covers damage to your car. It may also cover expenses if your personal property is damaged (such as your house).
Does it come with a deductible?
Uninsured motorist coverage may come with a deductible — ask your insurer. If a deductible applies, you’ll choose how much you want it to be when you’re buying insurance. Weigh how much car repairs would cost against how much you’d want to pay out of your own pocket. The higher you set your deductible, the lower your insurance premiums will be.
What is a deductible?
The deductible is what you’ll pay before your insurance company will pay a claim.
Let’s say you file a claim to your insurance company for a $5,000 car repair bill. Your insurance covers you for that amount, but it includes a $500 deductible. This means you must pay $500 out of your own pocket before your insurance will cover the other $4,500.
Uninsured motorist coverage in action
You’re driving on the freeway, when you’re rear-ended by another car. There’s severe damage at the rear of your car, and you feel a slight pain in your neck. After you and the other driver pull over to exchange information, you learn that he doesn’t have insurance.
Fortunately, you have uninsured motorist coverage. Your UMBI insurance pays for your medical examination, and your UMPD insurance pays for your car repair bill.
Why should I buy uninsured motorist coverage?
If you’re hit by someone without auto insurance, they may not have the means to compensate you. You may have to pay out of your pocket or even sue, if your own insurance doesn’t cover you fully.
More than 20 states require uninsured motorist coverage. Some only require UMBI, some only require UMPD and others require both. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see if you need to buy a policy.
How much does uninsured motorist coverage cost?
The cost of uninsured motorist coverage will vary depending on such factors as your age, location and driving experience. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay around 5% of what your auto insurance costs yearly.
How do I buy uninsured motorist coverage?
Your insurance provider will likely offer uninsured motorist coverage — contact them and ask for more details.
Your state may require you to buy uninsured motorist coverage. Even if it doesn’t, buying a policy may make sense: Uninsured drivers are more common than most people think.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best price. You can find coverage that works for you by comparing providers.