Uninsured motorist coverage might seem like an afterthought compared to more well-known car insurance coverage types, like bodily injury liability or property damage liability. In short, uninsured motorist coverage covers you if you are involved in an accident, and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance to cover your or your passengers’ damages. Considering that the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) reports that nearly one in eight drivers on the road today are uninsured, uninsured motorist coverage could be a key part of your auto insurance policy.


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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.

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?

While uninsured motorist coverage is not a car insurance coverage required in all states, it can be beneficial. Although car insurance is legally required in nearly all states, many states have higher rates of uninsured drivers. Triple-I states with the highest number of uninsured drivers include Mississippi at 29.4%, Michigan at 25.5%, Tennessee at 23.7%, New Mexico at 21.8%, Washington at 21.7% and Florida at 20.4%. Including uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy can provide a layer of financial protection for yourself in an accident with 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

    • While these coverage options often get lumped together, they refer to two different scenarios. 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 you are hit by a driver with car insurance, but their coverage limits are not enough to pay for your damages.
    • “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.