What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?

Both Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverages are designed to protect you against at-fault drivers who are unable to cover the damage that they cause.

To quote a famous comedian, Tom Segura, “Most people suck.  There, I just gave you a psychology degree”.

Ok, so “most” is a stretch, but I think we can all agree that it isn’t zero and thus “some” is probably right.  Well, when it comes to insurance, you can’t trust that the other person who caused the accident has insurance or has enough insurance. 

Even though almost every state requires liability insurance, some drivers choose to drive without it and those that do have it might not have enough.  And, if they don’t have insurance or not enough it is probably because they don’t have much in terms of financials so suing them for what their insurance doesn’t cover isn’t going to get you anywhere either.

It is for this reason that Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverages exist.  So you can protect yourself.


Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage protects you and your property (vehicle) after an accident in which the at-fault driver does not have car insurance.

Underinsured Motorist coverage  (UIM) protects you and your property (vehicle) when the at-fault driver has insurance, but not enough insurance to cover all the damage.


The number of uninsured and underinsured drivers on the road varies based on location.  As an example, it is said that 50% of drivers in southern Florida are uninsured or unlicensed. 

UM and UIM coverages offer valuable protection.

How does Uninsured motorist and Underinsured motorist coverages work?

You can’t rely on the state’s laws to properly protect you when it comes to auto insurance.  Almost all states require drivers to carry liability insurance, the state’s minimum limits aren’t always enough to cover the damage the driver causes.

As for an example of how these coverages work, one of the most common is when you are rear-ended and the other driver is considered at-fault.  Normally, you would file a property damage claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.  But, when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough to cover the cost to repair your car to its pre-accident condition, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage would step in to cover the costs up to the limits you purchase.

As stated above, a driver who is at fault is legally required to cover all damages, regardless of whether or not they have any insurance or carry enough insurance. However,  “Some people suck”, and there is an old saying of “you can’t get blood out of a turnip”  which means, you can’t get money out of someone that doesn’t have it.  Again, this is where Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage kicks in and provides the money you need to be made whole (sometimes less a deductible) and then the insurance company goes after the at-fault driver.

What are the coverages of Uninsured and Underinsured motorist insurance?

Both Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverages are broken into bodily injury and property damage coverage options. Similar to liability coverage, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) and Underinsured Motorist  Bodily Injury (UIMBI) protects you on a per person, per accident basis. Your Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) and Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UIMPD) coverage pays for damage to your vehicle on a per accident basis.

UM/UIM Bodily injury coverage goes toward paying for medical expenses for you as related to an injury caused by an at-fault driver.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t carry any coverage or not enough coverage injuries, UMBI/UIMBI would kick in to pay for your expenses up to your policy limits.

Coverage limits for bodily injury coverage often match the state liability minimums but you can purchase more.

UMBI/UIMBI coverages are listed on a per person/per accident basis similar to how Liability coverage works.

    • As a reminder it’ll probably display something like 50/100 and the way to read it is ($50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident).
    • Per person refers to how much your insurance company would pay for any single person’s injuries from an accident, which is $50,000 in this example.
    • Per accident refers to the total amount that your insurer will pay out for all injuries  from an accident through UMBI/UIMBI coverage, meaning it will pay up to $100,000 to cover the injuries of others in your vehicle at the time of the accident.

UMBI/UIMBI limits above state minimums can be selected when you purchase your policy, which is a good idea in states with low liability limits to better protect yourself and those in the car with you.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage is a coverage that covers the cost to repair/replace your vehicle up to policy limits if your car is damaged by a driver without insurance or sufficient insurance.

Many drivers do not select to have (UMPD/UIMPD) coverage because it is similar to collision coverage.  But it isn’t the same as collision when it comes to how the claim classification impacts your cost of insurance.

Specifically, rate increases after an uninsured property damage claim are much lower than a collision claim.

How much Uninsured Motorist / Underinsured Motorist coverage do I need?

Some states require uninsured or underinsured coverage, and if so, you must have at least the minimum set by the state. In most cases, you may elect to have more coverage in order to cover the cost of a new vehicle or to help ensure that you won’t be stuck with high medical bills.

UMBI/UIMBI coverage will cover your medical expenses and related costs in the case of injury up to the limit you purchase, while UMPD/UIMPD coverage will cover your vehicle up to the limit you purchase. Depending on the state requirements and your preference, you can elect to carry one or both coverages.

It is recommended to have your liability limits and your UM/UIM limits match. We recommend liability limits and UM/UIM on your insurance policy at 100/300 ($100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident) or higher if you can afford it and have assets you want to protect.

Where is Uninsured Motorist coverage required?

The following states require drivers to carry Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage.

*Car insurance is not required by law in New Hampshire, but drivers who purchase insurance are required to carry UM/UIM coverage.

**UM/UIM is mandatory in Rhode Island if drivers carry more than the minimum liability limits.


StateUninsured Motorist (bodily injury)Uninsured Motorist (bodily injury)Underinsured motorist (bodily injury)
New JerseyYesYesYes
New HampshireYesYesYes
New YorkYes
North CarolinaYesYesYes
North DakotaYes
Rhode IslandYesYesYes
South CarolinaYesYes
South DakotaYesYes
Washington, D.C.YesYes
West VirginiaYesYes

Which states have the highest Uninsured drivers?

Below is a list of the states with the percentages of uninsured drivers. Uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage is the way to protect you from these drivers.


RankState% of Uninsured Drivers
4New Mexico22%
8Rhode Island17%
29New Jersey10%
33New Hampshire9%
34North Carolina9%
39West Virginia8%
41South Dakota8%
42South Carolina8%
46North Dakota6%
48New York5%

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