Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist car insurance or “UM-UIM” on your own auto policy can be confusing. What are these? Why do I need these? Isn’t this just another way for my auto insurance company to squeeze more money out of me? The truth is that UM or Uninsured Motorist and UIM or Underinsured motorist coverage’s are some of the most important components of your car insurance policy, and ignoring them can be catastrophic.
So why are these so important, it lies in the numbers; statistically there are nearly 15% of drivers on the road without any liability insurance or uninsured drivers on the roadways in Pennsylvania. There is also a great deal of insured drivers in Pennsylvania who only carry minimum state mandated coverage to keep them legally on the road – underinsured drivers. There are a constant flow of commercials that offer auto insurance to keep you legal at bottom dollar – 99% of the time that means offering minimum policies to those drivers. If you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver or a driver with minimum coverage, $15,000/$30,000 in Pennsylvania and you are injured you will be in bad shape without UM-UIM coverage.
In Pennsylvania your auto insurance company, or auto insurance agent, must offer you uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage when you purchase your auto insurance policy. If you choose not to purchase this coverage you must sign a waiver and it must be kept in your auto policy binder to be produced when requested. This coverage can be used to protect you in instances like the above car accident, to step in and offer coverage for medical bills, property damage, and injuries when an auto accident occurs in the aforementioned type scenarios.
When does Uninsured Motorist Coverage come into play?
UM or Uninsured Motorist Coverage is pretty straight forward. A Pennsylvania driver negligently causes a car accident, but does not have any auto insurance coverage in place – you will need to look to your own uninsured motorist coverage for help. Some examples of UM incidents are:
- You’re in a car accident with a person who has no auto insurance,
- You’re in a car accident where the other driver presents you with false or out-of-date auto insurance coverage,
- You’re in a car accident and don’t know the other person’s identity, or their info,
- You’re are involved in a car accident where the other driver fleas the scene – a hit and run.
In these scenarios, you can look to your own auto insurance policy for coverage, just the same as if it were a known person who was insured.
When does Underinsured Motorist Coverage come into play?
UM or Underinsured Motorist Coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver is carrying less coverage than your damages, your UIM coverage can kick in to cover the deficiency. In Pennsylvania state minimum coverage requires drivers to carry $15K/$30K in liability coverage to drive legally; so if the at fault driver has minimum coverage, but your injuries are in excess of their coverage, you can look to your own UIM coverage to make up the difference (up to the limits you selected).
Pennsylvania has had the same state minimum coverages for over 30 years, and while they may have been adequate in the 1980’s, it certainly is not adequate to compensate an injured party today. All the more reason for Pennsylvania drivers to protect themselves with underinsured motorist coverage.
Is UM and UIM Mandatory in Pennsylvania?
Unfortunately no, these coverages are not mandatory in Pennsylvania, but all carriers are required to offer uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage options to their policy holders. If you elect to not have UM and UIM coverage, your auto insurance company should make you sign and date a waiver of these coverage’s. Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania is often times where insurance agents will try and “save” you money on your auto policy – if they suggest this you should turn and run away from them immediately. The Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage is usually a reasonable price and can mean the difference in getting just compensation for your car accident and injuries or getting zero.
UM-UIM TIP: Your car accident lawyer should always request copies any waiver documents from your auto insurance company, if the insurance company cannot be provide the waiver, you are deemed to have elected UM/UIM coverage in an amount equal to your liability limits.
Should you buy Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Pennsylvania?
In a word, YES! Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania is where you control your own protection for yourself, immediate family that lives in your household, other drivers on the policy and any passengers in the vehicle at the time of an auto accident. It would be a poor bet to hope that the at fault driver has purchased enough coverage to take care of all the bills and compensation for you. Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania will impact your ability to recover money damages for a car accident and the overall value of your claim. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that certainly applies to UM and UIM.
Reading your car insurance policy can be like reading a foreign language, we hope this informational post makes the concept of “UM/UIM” Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania a little more understandable. Now, go review your auto insurance policies declarations page, or contact the auto accident lawyers at KaplunMarx, we will be happy to do a free review of your auto insurance policy (mention the UM/UIM Coverage blog post – we appreciate the love).