Gianetta Palmer is a writer for CarInsurance101.com, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in EverydayHealth.com, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2021

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Just What's Essential

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage are different coverages but accompany each other
  • Some UM/UIM coverage is automatically added to liability coverage
  • You can decline UM/UIM car insurance in some states

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance protects you from tricky situations when an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough on their car insurance.

The question is, do you need it? Our uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance guide explains everything you need to know about the two coverages and how to find affordable car insurance.

Why stop at uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance? Enter your ZIP code in the free comparison tool above to compare multiple companies near you.

What are the differences in uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) car insurance?

UM coverage and UIM coverage are two types of insurance that pay for bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) when you’re in an accident with a person who doesn’t have enough car insurance or no car insurance at all.

What specifics make them different? Continue reading to learn more about these coverages and how they work.

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorist, or UM, covers you if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have car insurance – this includes a hit-and-run driver.

Since the uninsured driver has no way to provide coverage, your car insurance company will help with uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) expenses and uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) costs.

However, some states will require the uninsured, at-fault driver pay through a legal process, such as a civil suit.

What is underinsured motorist coverage?

Underinsured motorist, or UIM, covers a policyholder when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough car insurance coverage to pay for bodily injury or property damage.

UIM bodily injury (UIMBI) and UIM property damage (UIMPD) compensate you for the remaining costs.

If you’re in one of those states where car insurance companies aren’t responsible, you’ll need to sue the at-fault party for damages and injuries.

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How much uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) car insurance do I need?

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits vary by state.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), some states don’t require drivers to carry UM/UIM coverage, but companies may be required to offer it.

Let’s see which states require it and the states that don’t.

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As you can see, only a few states require it. The limits for UM/UIM are the same as BI and PD. In other words, a state with 25/50/25 limits would have the same amount for UM/UIM limits.

Should I buy uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) car insurance?

The short answer is yes. Now that you know what these coverages mean, it’s time to figure out how much you need.

You can get the minimum car insurance requirement, which depends on your state. If you want a more cost-efficient policy, stick to the minimum coverage option.

However, cars with a higher value than average need more coverage. Therefore, you should consider raising your limits to 50/100/50.

And thanks to UM/UIM coverage, you can stack your insurance coverage to supplement areas where one insurance doesn’t cover you all the way.

How do I make an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claim?

Don’t let the process discourage you. Understanding the payout from an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim is simple.

When an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance, the other party’s insurance will let you know.

From here, you can contact your car insurance company and let them know you want to make an underinsured motorist claim.

The uninsured motorist claim is much simpler because you only need to talk to your auto insurance provider.

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Why is uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) necessary?

UM/UIM is essential to insurance because it prevents massive out-of-pocket costs if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have enough coverage.

For example, roughly 27 percent of Florida’s drivers don’t have car insurance. The percentage of uninsured drivers varies by state. It’s not in your best interest to cover all your bases.

Adding UM/UIM to your auto insurance policy can save you from unnecessary expenses that break the bank.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Insurance: The Bottom Line

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) rates are often included in liability insurance. It can raise your overall policy, but it’s not a significant jump like collision and comprehensive coverage.

UM and UIM coverage is helpful in those extreme situations such as hit-and-run accidents. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Since uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) quotes are included in liability car insurance, compare the best companies using our free online quote tool to find a reasonable car insurance policy near you.