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The Differences Between Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2021

All responsible drivers have auto insurance to protect themselves when accidents arise. However, not everyone is as diligent. Thousands of people drive daily without car insurance. If you would happen to get involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you could be responsible for all medical costs as well as any vehicle repair. The Insurance Information Institute (III) states that one in eight drivers are uninsured. 

So, what is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage? These motorist coverage types are the protection drivers need to cover all the necessary medical bills and vehicle repairs if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits them.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), underinsured motorist coverage is an addition to your auto insurance policy. It protects you if you are in an accident involving someone who doesn’t have sufficient insurance of their own. In an accident, the insurance of the at-fault person is supposed to compensate the other injured person. If the at-fault party’s policy (liability coverage) has a limit below the cost of the damages, the injured party’s underinsured motorist coverage would cover the rest.

Underinsured coverage is not the same as uninsured coverage, which covers cases in which the at-fault driver has no insurance at all, though the two types may be bundled together. A handful of states require underinsured motorist coverage, while more require uninsured motorist coverage.

Underinsured motorist coverage is usually a relatively inexpensive add-on to your auto insurance policy cost. Still, it can prove beneficial if you’re in an accident where the driver who was found to be at fault does not have enough insurance to cover the cost of damages from the crash. This happens much more frequently than one might expect.

For example, assume you have medical, automobile and other pain and suffering types of damages totaling $200,000. The other driver has insurance to cover only $100,000. You can claim the balance against your insurance provider, up to the limit of your policy’s coverage. You cannot request more than the actual costs you had as a direct result of the accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

An uninsured motorist is an at-fault driver with no auto insurance or the necessary insurance that is state-required minimum liability amounts. This can also be a person whose insurance company is unwilling or unable to pay the claim. A hit-and-run driver could also be considered an uninsured motorist. One in every eight U. S. drivers on the road does not have insurance reports the Insurance Research Council.

Specific options for uninsured motorist coverage vary by state and insurer, but in general, there are three types of protection:

  • Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance – Also known as Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) insurance, this coverage will pay your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist who is at fault. Also, UM insurance will reimburse you and your passengers for lost wages. UM coverage again kicks in if, as a pedestrian, you are hit by an uninsured driver or if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage – Uninsured motorist insurance covers bodily injuries but no damage to your car or property. For this, you need UMPD coverage, which, in addition to paying for damages to your vehicle caused by an uninsured driver, generally also covers damage to other personal property such as your house or your fence. Ask your insurance professional or state insurance department, whether UMPD coverage is available in your state.
  • Medical Payments – Medical payments coverage will pay the driver and other occupants of your vehicle for their medical bills up to the policy coverage regardless of who is at fault in the accident. If anyone using this coverage recovers from another party who was at fault, the policy typically requires that you pay back your insurance company for what they paid in medical payments; however, many states provide that if there was insufficient coverage on the other vehicle, you do not have to pay your insurance company back. Many states also allow for partial repayment to the insurance company requiring them to share in your attorney’s fees to recover.

Do you need uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance?

Most experts would say yes. These coverages protect you and your family. It is a required coverage in some states, and even if it’s not needed, you never know when you will have a run in with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Some 9.2 percent of Americans — 29.6 million people — were uninsured in 2019, compared to 8.9 percent (28.6 million) in 2018, ACS data show.

If you have a run-in with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, it can leave you paying for your injuries or vehicle’s damages and going to court to seek compensation, which may not be collectible. A much easier route is to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance as part of your car insurance policy and make a claim for your damages.

Having uninsured and underinsured coverage protects you and your family in a West Virginia car accident and could allow you to recover compensation for your crash even if you were in a hit-and-run or the other driver does not have sufficient insurance. Work with a West Virginia car accident lawyer for assistance with your car accident case. A lawyer at Manchin Injury Law can help you explore all of your options for financial recovery.