UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Uninsured motorist coverage covers certain expenses after an accident, including your medical bills. But do you really need uninsured motorist coverage if you already have health insurance?
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about how uninsured motorist coverage works, including whether or not you need uninsured motorist insurance coverage if you already have health insurance.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
1 in 7 drivers in America have no car insurance whatsoever. In certain states, that number is as high as 1 in 5. If you collide with another driver, there’s a decent chance the other driver has no insurance.
Uninsured motorist coverage covers certain expenses after a collision with an uninsured driver. If the other driver has no insurance, and the other driver was at-fault for the accident, then you cannot make a claim through the other driver’s insurance company because there is no other insurance company.
Yes, the other driver is still personally liable for any damages caused by the accident. However, the types of drivers who drive without car insurance typically don’t have a lot of assets to seize in a lawsuit. This might make it impossible to claim compensation.
Sure, you could sue the uninsured at-fault driver, but it may not be worth it. If you have $500,000 in medical bills and the other driver only has a net worth of $10,000, then you’re never going to get the full amount owed to you.
Uninsured motorist coverage is built for situations like this. If the other driver has no insurance, then your own uninsured motorist coverage can kick into effect. Your own uninsured motorist coverage can cover things like medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages after an accident.
Uninsured motorist car insurance consists of two key components:
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (UMBI): UMBI covers medical bills, lost wages, and other costs incurred by drivers and passengers during a collision with an uninsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage (UMPD): UMPD covers the cost of repairing any property – like a vehicle – damaged by an uninsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is Required in Some States
Uninsured motorist coverage isn’t always optional.
Some states, particularly states with high numbers of uninsured drivers – require drivers to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Drivers in Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, for example, are required to have $25,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person and $50,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident.
Other states that require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage include Maine ($50,000 of coverage per person, $100,000 per accident), Massachusetts ($20,000/$40,000), New Jersey ($15,000), North Carolina ($30,000/$60,000/$25,000), Vermont ($50,000/$100,000/$10,000), Washington D.C. ($20,000/$50,000/$5,000), and West Virginia ($25,000).
Health Insurance Doesn’t Pay for Lost Wages or Pain and Suffering
Health insurance and uninsured motorist insurance cover some of the same things – like medical bills incurred as a result of an accident.
However, health insurance may not cover all costs stemming from an accident. Health insurance doesn’t cover lost wages or pain and suffering, for example.
If you’re injured in an accident, the at-fault driver is required to pay any costs incurred by you as a result of an accident – like vehicle repair expenses and medical bills. These are expenses you paid for as a result of the other driver’s actions.
However, the other driver is also liable for additional expenses – including ‘non-material expenses’. These expenses include pain and suffering, which can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars after a car accident. This money compensates you for the recovery process and any challenges you faced after a car accident – even if you can’t put a specific dollar amount on those challenges.
Health insurance will also not cover lost wages, while uninsured motorist insurance does cover lost wages. If you’re forced to take time off work because of your car accident, then you might receive compensation for lost wages. You will receive compensation equal to the amount you would have made if you were able to work.
Some Doctors on Health Insurance Plans Refuse to See Patients for Car Accident Claims
If you have injuries as a result of a car accident, for example, then you might visit a doctor in your health insurance company’s network. However, this doctor might refuse to see you because the doctor does not want to testify or be involved in a court case.
With uninsured motorist coverage, you may not encounter the same conflicts. This insurance is designed specifically for car insurance claims, while health insurance companies are more likely to challenge medical bills related to car insurance claims.
Some drivers avoid uninsured motorist coverage because they already have health insurance.
However, this may not be a wise choice. Health insurance can cover certain expenses after an accident – like your medical bills – but it does not cover other expenses – like lost wages or pain and suffering.
If you want better peace of mind, then consider contacting your insurance company to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy.