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Nathaniel Fick
Nathaniel Fick
Attorney • (410) 321-6000

Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance Coverage – What’s the Difference?

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When two motor vehicles collide, one of the first things the drivers do (after they check for injuries and report the accident) is to exchange insurance information. Insurance coverage is an integral part of a personal injury case, since coverage ultimately determines how the damages are paid.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection is insurance you buy to cover you when the other driver either doesn’t have auto insurance, or the limits of his policy are too low to cover your damages.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance that will pay for injuries to you and your passengers, and sometimes even damage to your vehicle if you are involved in a hit and run or an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. For someone to be considered an uninsured driver, he must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Has no automobile insurance at all.
  • Has insurance but coverage that is not sufficient to meet the minimum liability requirements of his state.
  • Has insurance, but his insurance company denied the claim and he is unable to pay the damages out of pocket.

Even if uninsured motorist coverage is not legally required in every state, it is generally a smart idea to carry it.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

While uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance, underinsured motorist coverage protects you when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damages and harm caused by their negligence. The at-fault driver’s insurance will typically pay for all damages up to the policy limits, and then your underinsured motorist coverage will cover the excess amount up to the limits you select.

While many people avoid buying uninsured/underinsured coverage as a cost cutting measure, it’s usually not too expensive to add uninsured/underinsured coverage to your auto policy, and its benefits far outweigh the costs.

It is best to always request quotes for the next level of coverage, and a million dollar umbrella; you will then make a more informed decision about which coverage is best for your situation.  If you are a primary wage earner for a family, there can be some level of peace of mind in having a million dollars on the roadway if you are taken out of the equation by the negligence of another driver.