How Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection (UM/UIM) Protects You

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection?

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection, or UM/UIM, is one of the most important aspects of your auto insurance coverage. UM/UIM protects you in the event that you are injured by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or who has very little insurance. UM/UIM can also protect you in case a hit and run driver injures you.

The Benefits of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Why do I need UM/UIM protection?

One important reason to have UM/UIM protection is that drivers with little or no insurance tend to be more reckless than those drivers with sufficient liability insurance coverage.

In Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., drivers are required by law to have an auto insurance policy that will pay for any injuries they cause while driving. This is known as liability coverage. But many drivers ignore these laws and drive without coverage. According to the Wall Street Journal and a study by the Insurance Research Council, about 14% of drivers nationwide, and about 15% of drivers in Washington, D.C. and Maryland are uninsured.

Many more drivers carry only the minimum amount of coverage required by law. In Washington, D.C. and Virginia, the minimum required level of liability coverage is $25,000 per injury. In Maryland it is $30,000.

Drivers with very little insurance coverage or no coverage at all create a big problem for anyone they injure. If you are injured by such a driver, you may have medical bills and lost wages that far exceed the minimum levels listed above, not to mention your pain and suffering. Unfortunately, if a driver with little or no insurance injures you, your recovery against that driver in a lawsuit will probably be very minimal unless you have UM/UIM protection.

How does UM/UIM protection work?

The general rule is that if you have UM/UIM protection, your insurance company will pay for injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver up to the limits of your UM/UIM policy. In providing this coverage, your insurance company will subtract out any insurance that the other driver does have. For example, if another driver injures you and has only $25,000 in liability coverage, and you have a $100,000 UIM policy, your insurance company will pay up to $75,000 in UIM coverage if the other driver pays his/her policy limit.

Do I need to have UM/UIM protection?

Many states, including Maryland and Virginia, require drivers to carry UM/UIM protection. Washington, D.C. only requires drivers to carry uninsured (UM) motorist protection, though UIM polices are still optionally available to D.C. drivers.

How much UM/UIM protection can I get?

Insurance companies typically allow you to take out a UM/UIM policy no larger than your liability coverage limit. If you have $100,000 in liability coverage, you will be limited to $100,000 in UIM coverage.

We recommend that you get the maximum amount of UM/UIM protection that is available to you, since this may be the only insurance you have if you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

How much does UM/UIM protection cost?

It is relatively inexpensive to add UM/UIM protection to your insurance policy or to increase the amount of UM/UIM protection that you have. You can usually increase your UM/UIM policy to the maximum level of protection for only a few extra dollars a month.

If you have been involved in an accident and have a question about whether there will be enough insurance to cover your medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, or other damages, please contact Patrick Malone and Associates.