Underinsured Motorist Coverage Explained

Underinsured motorist coverage pays when an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damage they've caused.
Aug 26, 2021

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If you’re in a car accident and another driver is at fault, their auto insurance will generally cover your medical bills and repair costs. But what if the driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay all your expenses? That’s where underinsured motorist coverage can help.

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What is underinsured motorist coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage is the section of your car insurance policy that pays out if the driver responsible for an accident doesn’t have sufficient insurance to cover your injuries or vehicle damage.

It’s often sold along with uninsured motorist coverage, which is similar but pays out when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage is required in almost a dozen states and optional in many others.

How does underinsured motorist coverage work?

Underinsured motorists are drivers who have liability car insurance, just not enough to pay for all of the damage they’ve caused. Liability insurance is the part of an auto policy that pays for vehicle repairs and injuries to others after a crash you’re responsible for. If an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough liability coverage, other injured drivers and passengers may end up footing the rest of the bills.

Underinsured motorist coverage prevents that by paying the difference between the at-fault driver’s policy limit and the total cost of the damage they caused.

This coverage can be particularly useful if you’re hit by someone with minimum required car insurance. In some states, minimum liability limits for bodily injury are as low as $15,000; medical bills after a bad accident could easily exceed that amount.

What does underinsured motorist coverage pay for?

There are two types of underinsured motorist coverage:

  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury, or UIMBI, pays for medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral costs and lost wages if you can’t work after a crash with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have enough car insurance to cover all damages.

  • Underinsured motorist property damage, or UIMPD, pays for car and property damage after an accident with a minimally insured at-fault driver. A deductible may apply.

Which states require underinsured motorist coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage is required in nine states. In two others, New Hampshire and Virginia, car insurance isn’t mandatory — but if you do buy it, you must include both underinsured motorist bodily injury and property damage in your policy.

Use the table below to see the minimum amount of underinsured motorist coverage you need to purchase in your state.

State

Underinsured motorist coverage requirements

Alabama

Coverage is optional if available.

Alaska

Coverage is optional if available.

Arizona

Coverage is optional if available.

Arkansas

Coverage is optional if available.

California

Coverage is optional if available.

Colorado

Coverage is optional if available.

Connecticut

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

Delaware

Coverage is optional if available.

Florida

Coverage is optional if available.

Georgia

Coverage is optional if available.

Hawaii

Coverage is optional if available.

Idaho

Coverage is optional if available.

Illinois

Coverage is optional if available.

Indiana

Coverage is optional if available.

Iowa

Coverage is optional if available.

Kansas

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

Kentucky

Coverage is optional if available.

Louisiana

Coverage is optional if available.

Maine

UIMBI required: $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident.

Maryland

UIMBI required: $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident.

UIMPD required: $15,000 per accident.

Massachusetts

Coverage is optional if available.

Michigan

Coverage is optional if available.

Minnesota

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

Mississippi

Coverage is optional if available.

Missouri

Coverage is optional if available.

Montana

Coverage is optional if available.

Nebraska

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

Nevada

Coverage is optional if available.

New Hampshire*

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

UIMPD required: $25,000 per accident.

New Jersey

Coverage is optional if available.

New Mexico

Coverage is optional if available.

New York

Coverage is optional if available.

North Carolina

Coverage is optional if available.

North Dakota

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

Ohio

Coverage is optional if available.

Oklahoma

Coverage is optional if available.

Oregon

Coverage is optional if available.

Pennsylvania

Coverage is optional if available.

Rhode Island

Coverage is optional if available.

South Carolina

Coverage is optional if available.

South Dakota

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

Tennessee

Coverage is optional if available.

Texas

Coverage is optional if available.

Utah

Coverage is optional if available.

Vermont

UIMBI required: $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident.

UIMPD required: $10,000 per accident.

Virginia*

UIMBI required: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.

UIMPD required: $20,000 per accident.

Washington

Coverage is optional if available.

Washington, D.C.

Coverage is optional if available.

West Virginia

Coverage is optional if available.

Wisconsin

Coverage is optional if available.

Wyoming

Coverage is optional if available.

*Car insurance in New Hampshire and Virginia is not required, but if purchased, uninsured motorist coverage is required at these minimum limits.

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How much does underinsured motorist coverage cost?

Underinsured motorist coverage generally costs less than other types of car insurance. As with most types of insurance, if you increase coverage limits, you'll pay more.

Drivers often choose to set their uninsured and underinsured motorist limits at the same level as their liability limits. All three types of coverage are designed to protect your financial assets from the expenses of a car accident, so the higher your net worth, the higher you may want these limits to be.

‘Stacking’ underinsured motorist coverage

Some states and insurance companies allow you to “stack” your underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, which means combining your limits for multiple vehicles to increase your overall limit. Doing this will typically raise your premium.

Imagine you have two vehicles on the same policy, each with $25,000 worth of underinsured motorist coverage. If you have stacked coverage and you’re in an accident with an underinsured driver, you’d have a total of $50,000 in coverage for medical bills beyond what the other driver’s insurance will pay.

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