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Underinsured Motorist Coverage
No matter how much attention you pay to the road, there is always a chance you’ll be hit by another driver. If that driver is an underinsured driver (i.e., he does not have a sufficient amount of car insurance), the auto accident can prove to be very expensive for you.
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage helps alleviate some of the financial burden that can occur when this happens.
Underinsured motorist coverage is usually offered in two different types:
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage.
- This is the more common of the two underinsured motorists coverage.
- Some states require this coverage as part of your car insurance policy.
- Underinsured motorist property damage coverage.
- Not offered everywhere.
- Not often required by states.
Most states require a minimum amount of liability car insurance. If you get into an accident with a driver who has elected to purchase only the minimum insurance amounts, you may find that your costs aren’t adequately covered.
Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) coverage will help cover your costs for bodily injury when the other driver’s insurance is not sufficient, as long as your UIMBI limit is higher than the at-fault driver’s liability limit.
Say your accident-related medical expenses total $200,000.
The driver who was found at fault has bodily injury liability coverage with a limit of $100,000, so you get a check from that driver’s insurer for $100,000.
If you have UIM coverage on your insurance policy and a coverage limit of $200,000 per incident, it will cover the remaining $100,000 difference.
NOTE: You can also be stuck with bills from a driver who has no insurance at all. In this case, you’ll need uninsured motorist coverage to pay your expenses. Visit our Uninsured Motorist Coverage page to learn more.
Understanding Underinsured Motorist Coverage Limits
Here’s where it gets a bit more complicated. You have to have underinsured motorist coverage limits that are HIGHER THAN the limits of the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage, or you may not receive benefits.
Let’s say you are in an accident and you are NOT at fault, and:
- The at-fault driver has $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage.
- Your UIM coverage is $25,000.
- Your medical expenses total $100,000.
Because your underinsured motorist coverage is LESS than the at-fault driver’s liability bodily injury coverage, you would not be able to collect for the damages.
If your insurance was $100,000, however, you would be able to collect for the damages over $50,000 and up to $100,000.
Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD) coverage applies when the at-fault driver has inadequate insurance coverage.
This coverage helps pay for damages to your vehicle when the at-fault driver’s limits don’t fully cover your expenses.
- Your vehicle sustains $5,000 worth of damage.
- The motorist who hit you is only covered for $3,000.
- You have $10,000 of uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
- Your underinsured motorist property damage plan will compensate you for the $2,000 difference.
Underinsured motorist property damage coverage is not restricted only to vehicle damage. It will, in some instances, also cover valuable items―computers or cell phones―in your vehicle at the time of the accident. Depending on the circumstances and your state, it may also cover you if the underinsured driver destroys your fence, mailbox, or other personal property.
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