Underinsured motorist coverage is important coverage to have, and you may not actually be aware of whether you already have it.
If your insurance coverage meets the liability minimums for your state, you’re automatically covered under the law, in the event that the other driver does not have insurance. But what happens if the other driver has insurance that’s not sufficient to cover your claim? If your damages (injuries and expenses) exceed the limits of the policy of the driver that hit you, that’s where underinsured motorist coverage comes in.
To be clear, UNDERinsured motorist coverage is different than UNinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if the driver who hit you doesn’t have auto insurance to cover your injury claim. An uninsured motorist is someone not covered by insurance at the time of a collision, but it could also mean a hit and run driver, or a driver who is otherwise unidentifiable. This coverage, which is included in basic liability coverage, is different than underinsured motorist coverage.
If the other driver has insurance coverage, but that driver’s insurance coverage limits are not sufficient to cover the full value of your injury claim, underinsured motorist coverage takes effect. If you have extensive injuries from an accident or are in a multi-vehicle accident with multiple people making claims against the same policy, underinsured motorist coverage can become very important.
If you own a vehicle and carry the required insurance under the law, you should review your coverage to make sure your policy provides underinsured motorist coverage, since it is an optional coverage that is in addition to what many people consider full coverage. While it is an optional coverage, we recommend it, because it can you extra protection in many circumstances. Even if you already have underinsured motorist coverage, you may want to consider speaking to your insurance professional about increasing the amount of coverage you have. If you have an accident with serious injuries, unfortunately, it is likely the policy carried by the other driver could leave you with insufficient coverage for your injuries.