This coverage is vital because it is highly likely that if a driver does not have insurance, they are not going to be able to cover any liabilities they incur through their own means. That means in the event of an accident you would have to pay for all damages and accept all financial losses arising from that accident (such as health care bills or lost work) yourself.
It is a crime for drivers to drive uninsured in all states, and because uninsured motorist coverage is a normal option in most driver’s insurance policies it should not be taken as a license to drive without insurance so that you can rely on another parties insurance to make payments in the event of an accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage also applies in the incidence of a “hit and run” accident, this is where the party at fault flees the scene of the accident without giving their details or any means of tracing them for an insurer to determine liabilities or compensation. It’s worth noting that if you can identify the other vehicle; such as by noting down their license plate number – then uninsured motorist coverage will probably not apply as the insurance company can choose to litigate instead suing the registered owner of those plates – even if they deny that they had any part in an accident.
It is possible that you may have to sue an uninsured motorist in the case of a hit and run accident – this may mean filing a claim against a fictitious “John Doe” driver – to gain the insurers payout.
In some states it may also be possible that uninsured motorist coverage may also double as underinsured motorist coverage, this is in the instance where another party does have insurance but the level of their coverage is insufficient to meet a claim made against it by a 3rd party.
In this case the insurance company will pay out the amounts owed to its own insured party and then seek to recover the excess amount from the 3rd party, usually by litigation in the name of their policy holder.
(To read more about uninsured motorist coverage outside of our glossary, please read our more detailed article on the subject.)
Additional Uninsured Motorist Coverage Definitions
- Wikipedia – An ‘uninsured motorist clause’ is a provision commonly found in United States automobile insurance policies that provides for a driver to receive damages for any injury he or she receives from an uninsured, negligent driver. The owner of the policy pays a premium to the insurance company to include this clause. Although not exclusive, this coverage is typically added to an automobile insurance policy.
- Investopedia – An addition to a standard automobile insurance policy that provides coverage in the event the other driver is both legally responsible for the accident and is not insured. Uninsured motorist coverage is required in some states, and optional in most others, and pays for injuries to the policy holder and his or her passengers, and in certain cases for damage to property. It is recommended to have UM coverage.