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What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Car Accidents

What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, and how can it help me in my car accident case?

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and (UIM) are policies that are paid for and utilized by the plaintiff (injured party) in a car accident case, not by the tortfeasor (person who caused the accident). This type of coverage is usually an extra option on top of standard car insurance policy. It is used when the at fault party either had no insurance or had very limited insurance coverage.

For example, if you are hit by a drunk driver with a $10,000.00 policy limit and your damages are in excess of the $10,000.00, your underinsured motorist coverage would help cover anything in excess of that $10,000.00 amount up to the limits of your policy. Likewise, uninsured motorist coverage would cover damages up to the limits of your own policy.

Clearly, if you are in a car accident and the other party had no insurance or minimal insurance, having Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage can be very helpful in your personal injury case.

There are some things to keep in mind when it comes to UM and UIM coverage:

  • Different States may have different statutes of limitations (the amount of time you have to being a claim) on Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
    • Some states use the contract statute of limitations
    • Some states use the personal injury statute of limitations
  • Some states permit mandated arbitration in UM cases
  • States can vary in the definition of Uninsured Motorist.
    • For example, some state will not cover hit and run coverage or phantom vehicle coverage – where a car runs the injured party off the road but never makes actual contact.
  • There are generally two definitions for Underinsured Motorists
    • A motorist who does not have ample coverage to compensate for the damages that they cause.
    • Or, some states define underinsured motorists as someone having less insurance then the plaintiff (injured party).
  • Some states have requirements that certain conditions that must be met prior to Underinsured Motorist Coverage taking effect. For example:
    • The at fault party’s coverage limits must be completely used up before your UIM coverage takes over.
    • The UIM coverage carrier may have to be informed of any offers made by the at fault party’s insurance company.


All in all, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage policies are wonderful resources to have for those that have been involved in a car accident, however they can be very complex to navigate. It is important that you consult a qualified car accident lawyer to deal with your specific car accident case.

For further reading check out some of the following resources:

Nolo – Uninsured Motorist Coverage
E-Surance – Uninsured Motorist Coverage

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