Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides financial protection for drivers who are in accidents with uninsured motorists or underinsured drivers (those without enough insurance to cover resulting expenses). Uninsured motorist insurance also covers hit-and-run accidents and typically includes both bodily injury and property damage coverage. Twenty states currently require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to legally drive.

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Written by D. Gilson, PhD
Professor & Published Author D. Gilson, PhD

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Feb 18, 2021

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The Highlights

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages and medical expenses that result from an accident in which you are not at fault and the other driver is uninsured or underinsured
  • Most uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage includes both bodily injury and property damage coverage
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is required in 20 states

When you compare car insurance, you may wonder about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). What is uninsured motorist coverage? Is there a difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage? Is it required? If not, should you buy it anyway? Read this article to learn everything you need to know about uninsured/underinsured motorist car insurance coverage.

Before we get started, if you’re ready to start shopping for affordable uninsured/underinsured motorist car insurance coverage, use your ZIP code in our free tool to compare uninsured/underinsured motorist car insurance coverage quotes right now.

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and how does it work?

If you’re in an accident with a driver who is uninsured or underinsured, underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance will cover the cost of damages (and possibly medical expenses, depending on the coverage you have) up to the limits of your policy.

What is an underinsured driver? The definition may vary by state, but underinsured drivers are typically those who don’t have enough coverage to pay for all of the expenses that result from an accident in which they are at-fault. In that case, your underinsured motorist coverage would apply.

If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, uninsured motorist coverage will most likely apply. Like any other incident, you’ll need to involve your insurance company quickly so they can make a determination and move you through the claims process.

If you have more than one vehicle insured under the same policy or two vehicles insured under two separate policies (both of which are in your name), you may be able to “stack” your insurance claims. This means you could file uninsured/underinsured motorist claims on two policies, thereby getting more money in payouts. However, this is not legal in every state, and some insurance companies prohibit this practice.

What kinds of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage are available?

There are two main types of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury (which covers medical expenses) and uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage (which covers damages to your vehicle).

If you have good health insurance, you may or may not need underinsured or uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (if your state does not already require it), but only you can decide if you’re willing to rely on health insurance rather than the protection provided by your auto insurance policy.

Is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage required?

Now that you know the basics, do you even need uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage? The answer is probably. It’s actually required as a part of the minimum liability coverage necessary to drive legally in many states. Take a look at this table to find out if it’s required where you live.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Requirements by State
StateRequires Uninsured Motorist CoverageRequires Underinsured Motorist Coverage
District of ColumbiaYesNo
New HampshireNoNo
New JerseyYesYes
New MexicoNoNo
New YorkYesYes
North CarolinaYesYes
North DakotaYesYes
Rhode IslandNoNo
South CarolinaYesYes
South DakotaYesYes
West VirginiaYesYes
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Even if it’s not required, it’s still a good idea to add this coverage to your policy, given that an average of 13 percent of drivers across the country are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). All you need to do is speak with your insurance agent to add uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to your policy.

Basic policy limits typically at least match the minimum liability policy requirements set by the state in which you live, but you can also choose to increase your policy limits. You’ll find that this coverage is fairly affordable, with it averaging an additional 5 percent of your overall annual rate. To find out how much it could cost you, compare quotes from multiple companies.

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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: The Bottom Line

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides financial protection for drivers who are in accidents involving uninsured drivers or drivers with insufficient coverage. It also covers hit-and-runs in most cases.

This coverage is required in 20 states but may be a good idea to purchase regardless of state law and will cost you on average an additional 5 percent on your car insurance rates.

Ready to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist car insurance coverage? All you need to do is use your ZIP code in the free tool on this page to start comparing uninsured/underinsured motorist car insurance coverage rates today.

Are you looking for free insurance quotes?

Your one-stop online insurance guide. Get free quotes now!

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