What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

When people think about auto insurance, they usually think of covering medical bills and property damage from an accident, as well as legal expenses if they are at fault, and for good reason.  The natural first concern under the stress of a crash is making sure these immediate bills are paid.

However, after the initial shock subsides, any number of issues can complicate the process of moving on from a crash.  For instance, in 2022, the Insurance Research Council found that approximately 14% of drivers nationwide were uninsured.  What happens if another driver involved in the crash is at fault but doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for all of the damage caused?

Many auto insurance policies contain coverage that applies when a driver at fault for an accident has no insurance or insufficient insurance, called uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage.  In fact, in some states, the law requires such coverage.

An insurance policy that contains uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will define the circumstances when those coverages are available, but generally, uninsured motorist coverage provides benefits when there is no insurance coverage available from the driver who is at fault for a crash.  This can happen not only when the other driver does not have insurance but also when the other driver cannot be identified, such as when he or she leaves the scene of the crash.

On the other hand, underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM, provides coverage when the driver at fault for a crash does not have enough insurance to pay for all of the damage for which he or she is liable.  The insurance policy will spell out when UIM coverage applies and what damages are covered, but this process involves determining how much damage was caused by the crash, including possible future medical bills, pain from injuries, and the anxiety of trying to recover physically and mentally.

Of course, disagreements can arise over how much damage is at issue, especially when predicting how an injury will heal and what medical treatment will be necessary in the future, as well as what amount of money will compensate someone for damages like pain and anxiety.  However, a person is entitled to be compensated for harm like this when it occurs because of someone else’s fault, so understanding what coverage benefits an insurance policy provides in such a situation is vitally important.  A lawyer experienced in dealing with insurance claims can help resolve these disagreements or determine the next step if the insurance company does not cooperate.