Uninsured motorist coverage can protect your finances after an accident when the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance to pay for injuries or vehicle damage. You may not think about this type of auto insurance coverage often, but driving without insurance is common, and you never know when an uninsured driver might cause an accident with you. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team explains how uninsured motorist coverage works, including what it covers. Keep in mind that some form of uninsured motorist coverage is required in many states.


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What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of car insurance that helps protect you and your passengers if you are involved in an accident where the at-fault party does not have insurance and cannot pay for injuries or damages through their insurance coverage. Without this type of insurance, you could pay out-of-pocket to cover your medical bills or vehicle repairs from an accident that was not your fault, if an uninsured driver hits you as a pedestrian or if you are the victim of a hit-and-run.

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This covers costs if you or any of your passengers are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver. In addition to covering any medical expenses (up to your policy’s limits), some UMBI will also cover lost wages if your injuries leave you unable to work for a period of time.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): This is a separate coverage that specifically covers damages caused to your vehicle by an uninsured driver. This coverage could be key if you only have liability only car insurance and are hit by a hit-and-run driver. UMPD is not available in every state. If that’s the case for you, you can consult your insurance agent on whether your vehicle’s damage would be covered if an uninsured motorist hit you and UMPD was unavailable.

What is underinsured motorist coverage?

While uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are often lumped together, they refer to two different types of coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage applies if you are involved in an accident where the at-fault driver has no active auto insurance policy. On the other hand, underinsured motorist coverage covers you if a driver with car insurance hits you, but their coverage limits are not enough to pay for your damages.

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

While uninsured motorist coverage is not a car insurance coverage required in all states, it is required in many and can be a very beneficial financial protection to have. This coverage can protect you against costly damage caused by uninsured motorists, and in some states and jurisdictions, it can protect you in the event of a hit-and-run. If you live in a state where uninsured motorist coverage is required, you must have it to drive legally. Whether or not it is required, though, including uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy can provide a valuable layer of financial protection for yourself if you get into an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

Where can I find out if my policy has uninsured motorist coverage?

The easiest way to see if you have uninsured motorist coverage is to review your current car insurance declarations page. This document summarizes your coverage and policy limits, as well as deductible amounts. Keep in mind that car insurance requirements depend on where you live. Many states require uninsured motorist coverage, but not all states require or even offer uninsured motorist property damage coverage.

If you cannot find your declarations page, most car insurance companies also have the ability to check your policy coverage online, through a mobile app or by calling your insurance agent.

Frequently asked questions

    • The average cost of car insurance in June 2023 in the U.S. is $168 per month for full coverage and $52 per month for minimum coverage. However, the amount you will pay depends on numerous factors such as where you live, your age (in most states), your driving history and the type of vehicle you drive. To determine how much car insurance costs for you—and which company can give you the cheapest rate for your needs—select three companies that interest you and request quotes from each to compare.
    • Stacking” usually refers to increasing the coverage amount paid to you under uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage in the event of a covered claim. Stacking can apply in certain states if you have more than one vehicle on your policy. For example, you may have two vehicles on your policy and $50,000 UMBI coverage. If you were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver and your coverage is stacked, your policy would pay up to $100,000 in UMBI for your injuries. If your coverage is unstacked, your UMBI coverage limit would be $50,000 in this scenario.

      Keep in mind that this coverage only applies to UMBI and not UMPD, and is subject to state laws and your car insurance company’s rules. You may also pay an added cost to have this stacking coverage on your policy.

    • The best auto insurance company may vary based on several factors, such as where you live, how much coverage you need and your budget. The best company for you may not be the best for someone else and vice versa. Decide what’s important to you in a car insurance company and select a few to get quotes and compare (Bankrate’s reviews of our picks for the best may help you get started).