Uninsured motorists are those who operate their motor vehicles with no insurance coverage. Unless you carry special insurance coverage on your own auto policy, you're not protected from the damage caused by an uninsured motorist. Uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage usually covers hit-and-run accidents and underinsured motorists as well.
You Can Buy Special Coverage
The laws in most states require insurance companies to offer drivers UIM. If you purchase a UIM add-on to your policy, your own insurance company will compensate you for damages if you're in a vehicular accident that you didn't cause, even if the other driver has little or no insurance. You don't have to be driving when the accident occurs. UIM policies typically cover passengers and pedestrians as well - anyone who might be injured by a vehicle driven by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Coverage May Be Limited
Most insurance companies will not issue UIM coverage in an amount greater than your own liability coverage. Your liability coverage is what your insurance company will pay the other driver if you cause an accident. For example, if you're carrying $30,000 in liability insurance, you would be unlikely to obtain $50,000 in UIM coverage.
Other Restrictions May Apply
In many states, insurance companies are required to offer only up to $30,000 in UIM coverage, so this may be all you're able to purchase. Some companies will allow you to buy additional coverage over the statutory $30,000 requirement, but it will come at an increased premium and the amount can't exceed your own liability coverage. For example, if you want $50,000 in UIM coverage, you'd have to insure your own liability at $50,000 as well, and this will increase your premiums.
Coverage Might Overlap
Unless your UIM coverage and the other driver's coverage are stackable, the two policies will overlap. For example, if your UIM coverage is $30,000, and if the other driver carries $15,000 in liability insurance, you'll receive total compensation of $30,000. Your UIM policy provision would make up the difference between the other driver's $15,000 and your UIM coverage, to reach a total of $30,000. With stackable coverage, the two policies add together. For example, if you have $30,000 in UIM coverage and the other driver has $15,000 in liability coverage, you could recover up to $45,000. If the other driver has no insurance at all, or if you're involved in a hit-and-run accident, you're limited to recovering the amount of your UIM coverage. If you have no UIM coverage, you won't be compensated.
An Insurance Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding accidents involving uninsured motorists is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an insurance lawyer.