Morgan Pritchett
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What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

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car accident with motorcycle
Do you need uninsured motorist coverage?

I got married this year, and one of the things my wife and I decided to do was to combine our auto insurance policies into one monthly bill. That required us to compare our own separate policies and see who was getting the better deal. But one of the many things that the American school system doesn’t teach you is how to comprehend important life requirements like car insurance. On both of our policies, we noticed a line for “uninsured motorist coverage,” which was confusing. If you’re not sure what that is, let me walk you through what I learned.

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What is uninsured motorist coverage?

According to The Balance, only two states in the U.S. don’t require car insurance: Virginia and New Hampshire. Unfortunately, some drivers from the states that do require car insurance still skirt the law and you may get into an accident with someone who does not have any coverage. So what happens if an uninsured driver hits you or damages your property? Unless you have uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll be paying out of pocket for the damage they’ve caused. That sucks, right?

If you do have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company can help pay for any vehicle damage, medical bills for you and your passengers, and damage to your property. Uninsured motorist coverage can also cover under-insured drivers, meaning if your medical or repair bills exceed the person-at-fault’s insurance coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage would kick in. Your insurance company should have details about what exactly is included with its uninsured motorist coverage.

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Photo: W. Robert Howell via Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0

Is uninsured motorist coverage required?

Each state has a minimum amount of coverage for car insurance, including injury liability, property damage, and more. As of November of this year, 20 states require some form of uninsured motorist coverage. While it may seem unlikely that you’ll ever get into an accident with an uninsured motorist, a report from The Center for Insurance Policy and Research found that one in eight drivers were uninsured in 2014, a number that has increased over time.

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When deciding if uninsured motorist coverage is for you, think about the value of your car, the kind of medical insurance you have, and what, if any, disability coverage your employer offers in the event that you are too injured to work. Planning ahead is the best way to protect yourself and your family.