What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage, and Do You Need It?

Many states require drivers to have this type of coverage, but even if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy.

Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
  • 10+ years in insurance and personal finance content

  • 30+ years in media, PR, and content creation

Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

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Ashley Cox
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Ashley CoxSenior Managing Editor
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  • 5+ years in insurance and personal finance content

Ashley is a seasoned personal finance editor who’s produced a variety of digital content, including insurance, credit cards, mortgages, and consumer lending products.

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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark Friedlander
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin Halachev
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Konstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

Updated June 12, 2024

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Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is a type of auto insurance protection that can help cover your costs if someone driving without insurance, or with too little insurance, injures you or your passengers or damages your car. It can also pay for medical expenses and vehicle damage if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

Some states require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, while others simply require insurers to offer it to policyholders who have the option to decline it. But even if you live in a state that doesn’t require it, buying uninsured motorist coverage is a good idea. Despite most states requiring drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage, about one in eight drivers on the road has no insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council.[1]

Quick Facts
  • Nationwide, nearly 13% of motorists drive without insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council.

  • Mississippi has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers (29.4%), and New Jersey has the lowest (3.1%).

  • Comparing quotes from multiple car insurance companies is the best way to find the coverage you need at an affordable price.

Uninsured motorist coverage explained

Twelve states have “at-fault” insurance liability laws. In those states, the car insurance of the driver who causes an accident pays for the property damage and injuries of the other parties in the crash.

But some people drive without insurance, even though every state except New Hampshire requires motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. If an uninsured driver causes an auto accident, you could end up paying for your own property damage and medical costs.

Uninsured motorist protection is a type of coverage you buy and add to your policy — like collision and comprehensive coverage. It can protect you financially if an uninsured driver causes an accident that injures you or damages your car.

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How uninsured motorist coverage works

If an uninsured driver injures you or a passenger or damages your vehicle, you’ll file a claim with your own insurance company, asking it to pay your costs under your uninsured motorist coverage. The coverage applies to you as the driver, your passengers, your vehicle while you drive it, your vehicle while it’s parked, and even if you’re hit as a pedestrian.

Uninsured motorist coverage can even pay for damages in hit-and-run cases where the driver who causes the accident leaves the scene before you can get their information.

Important Information

If you live in a no-fault state, your insurance company should pay for your covered bodily injury losses, regardless of who causes an accident.[2] But you'll still need UM/UIM to cover damage to your vehicle.

What uninsured motorist coverage protects

Uninsured motorist coverage options can vary, depending on the state where you live and your insurer. Generally, however, it includes three types of protection:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)

  • Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)

  • Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage

Uninsured motorist bodily injury

If an uninsured driver causes an accident that results in injury to you or your passengers, UMBI can pay medical bills. It’ll also pay your medical bills if you’re hurt in a hit-and-run or if an uninsured driver hits and injures you while you’re a pedestrian or riding a bicycle.

UMBI can also cover your lost wages while your covered injuries leave you unable to work, pain and suffering, and funeral expenses if an accident is fatal.[3]

Uninsured motorist property damage

UMPD pays for property damage caused by an uninsured driver if you don’t have collision insurance to cover the damage. It can also protect other personal property you own. For example, if an uninsured driver plows through your backyard fence, UMPD could pay to repair or replace the fence.

Underinsured motorist coverage

About 20% of American drivers carry only the minimum amount of liability coverage the law requires in their state, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Depending on the extent of damage to your vehicle, the at-fault driver may not have enough insurance to fully cover your costs. In that situation, UIM can pay for the difference between your repair costs and the liability limits of the other driver’s insurance.

Learn More: Minimum Car Insurance Requirements by State

Learn More: Minimum Car Insurance Requirements by State

How much uninsured motorist coverage costs

In states that require it, you’ll pay for uninsured motorist coverage along with your auto liability insurance. If you live in a state that doesn’t require uninsured motorist coverage, you can usually still purchase it as an optional coverage with liability-only or full-coverage car insurance.

The following table illustrates the average monthly cost of full-coverage car insurance with uninsured motorist coverage. For example, drivers insured with Travelers pay nearly 39% less for a policy than drivers insured with Liberty Mutual. Keep in mind that the rate you’ll actually pay can vary based on many factors, including your driving history, where you live, and your coverage limits.

Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly QuoteIQ Score
The Insurify Quality (IQ) Score uses more than 15 criteria to objectively rate insurance companies on a one-to-five scale. The Insurify editorial team researches insurer data to determine the final scores.
Travelers$1724.3
Elephant$1753.6
Clearcover$1842.9
Nationwide$1874.1
Safeco$2033.8
Direct Auto$2093.2
Mercury$2383.6
National General$2473.5
Midvale Home & Auto$2513.2
State Auto$2553.8
Progressive$2644.1
Liberty Mutual$2803.8
Dairyland$347N/A
Bristol West$3692.2
CSAA$374N/A
The General$3833.4
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.
  • Our editorial team spent more than 350 hours developing the Insurify Quality (IQ) Score and scoring insurance companies. The IQ Score objectively analyzes and calculates a score for insurers using more than 15 crucial criteria. The team weighted criteria by importance to the consumer — factors such as customer reviews and affordability influence the score more than availability and third-party ratings.

    We rate each company on a 1-to-5 scale based on five categories: financial ratings, customer satisfaction, affordability, customer support and transparency, and availability. Insurify updates ratings once a year or as more recent information becomes available.

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States that require uninsured motorist coverage

Depending on where you live, your state may require you to carry uninsured motorist coverage or both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

The following states require drivers to have both minimum liability coverage and uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage.

StateUninsured/Underinsured Coverage Requirements
Connecticut$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Illinois$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage
Kansas$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Maine$50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Maryland$30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and $15,000 per incident in uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage
Massachusetts$20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Minnesota$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Missouri$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage
Nebraska$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
New Jersey$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and $25,000 per accident for uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage
New York$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
North Carolina$30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage and $25,000 per accident in uninsured property damage coverage
North Dakota$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Oregon$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage
South Carolina$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and $25,000 per accident for uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage
South Dakota$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage
Vermont$50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and $10,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage
Virginia$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and $20,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage
Washington, D.C.$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and $5,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage
West Virginia$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage and $25,000 per accident in uninsured motorist property damage coverage
Wisconsin$25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage

Additionally, some states have conditional requirements for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage:

  • Rhode Island: You can opt out of uninsured motorist coverage if you purchase only the state’s minimum amount of liability insurance. But if you choose higher liability limits or full-coverage insurance, you’ll also need to buy uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.[4]

  • New Hampshire: Residents of New Hampshire don’t have to buy auto insurance. But if you live in New Hampshire and choose to purchase coverage, you’ll also need to buy uninsured motorist coverage equal to the limits of your liability coverage.[5]

  • Virginia: If you can prove you’re able to pay for losses in case of an accident, you may opt out of buying insurance in Virginia. But in reality, most residents of the commonwealth will need to purchase at least the required minimum amount of coverage. If you buy insurance in Virginia, you’ll also need to purchase $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage and $20,000 in uninsured motorist property damage coverage.[6]

Keep in Mind

Many states that don’t require drivers to buy uninsured motorist coverage do require insurers to at least make the coverage available to drivers. Check with your insurer or your state’s department of insurance to find out if this coverage is available in your state.

Factors that affect uninsured motorist coverage costs

Costs for any type of car insurance coverage can vary widely based on factors like your driving record, where you live, whether you choose full-coverage or liability-only insurance, and your coverage limits. Additionally, if you live in a state with a high percentage of uninsured drivers, your car insurance rates will likely reflect the risk that you might get into an accident with an uninsured driver and need to file a claim.

For example, the average monthly cost of full-coverage car insurance in Mississippi, where 29.4% of drivers are uninsured, is $240, according to Insurify data. That’s about 29% higher than the average monthly cost in Massachusetts, where just 3.5% of motorists drive without insurance. The following table illustrates the pattern between insurance costs and rates of uninsured motorists in several states.

StateAverage Monthly Quote: Full CoveragePercentage of Uninsured Drivers
Mississippi$24029.4%
Tennessee$20223.7%
New Mexico$18721.8%
Washington$21621.7%
Pennsylvania$2276%
Wyoming$1855.8%
Maine$1774.9%
Massachusetts$1863.5%
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.
Keep Reading: Why Is My Car Insurance So High?

Keep Reading: Why Is My Car Insurance So High?

How much uninsured motorist coverage to buy

If you live in a state that requires uninsured motorist coverage, the state will set limits for how much you have to buy. But just as with liability insurance, you can choose to purchase more than the required amount.

Many insurers recommend you purchase the same amount of uninsured motorist coverage as your liability limits. For example, if you live in Wisconsin, the minimum required amount of uninsured motorist coverage matches liability coverage requirements — $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. But if you choose a higher liability limit of $30,000 and $60,000, you should consider buying the same amount of uninsured motorist coverage.

Important Information

Keep in mind that increasing your insurance coverage usually also means your premium will increase. Still, depending on your financial circumstances, the additional protection can be worth the increased cost.

Uninsured motorist coverage FAQs

State laws will determine some of your car insurance choices. But if you’re considering how much coverage to buy and how additional coverages can affect your premiums, a car insurance calculator can help you estimate your costs. And car insurance discounts may help lower your monthly premiums. Here’s some additional information to help you make informed decisions about uninsured motorist coverage.

  • How many drivers are uninsured?

    Nationally, nearly 13% of drivers were uninsured in 2019, when the Insurance Research Council investigated rates of drivers without insurance. Mississippi has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers, at 29.4%, while New Jersey has the lowest rate, at 3.1%.

  • Do you need uninsured motorist coverage if you have health insurance?

    Health insurance covers medical costs, but depending on your policy, it may not cover all your accident-related costs. And medical insurance typically comes with deductibles, copays, and co-insurance costs, which can add up to significant out-of-pocket expenses for you in case of an accident. Uninsured motorist coverage can help pay for any excess medical costs, plus things that health insurance won’t pay for, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, or funeral expenses.

  • How much uninsured motorist coverage do you need?

    If you live in a state that requires uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll need to buy at least the state’s minimum required amount. However, depending on your financial situation, it may make sense to purchase more than the minimum. Generally, insurers recommend matching your uninsured motorist limits with your liability limits.

  • Does uninsured motorist coverage cover hit-and-run accidents?

    Yes. If a hit-and-run driver damages your vehicle or injures you or your passengers, uninsured motorist coverage will pay medical bills and the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle. It also covers your medical costs if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you when you're walking or riding a bicycle.

  • What happens if you get into an accident without insurance?

    Driving without insurance is against the law in every state except New Hampshire. Depending on state laws, the penalties for driving without insurance can include fines, license suspension, registration revocation, court costs, and imprisonment. If you get into an accident without insurance, you’ll also be entirely financially and legally responsible for any damage or injuries you cause.

  • What is personal injury protection coverage?

    Personal injury protection (PIP) is a type of car insurance that helps cover medical costs for you and your passengers, lost wages, funeral costs, and other expenses stemming from an accident-related injury. In some states, PIP is optional, while other states require it. It's commonly referred to as “no-fault insurance.”

Sources

  1. Insurance Research Council. "One in Eight Drivers Uninsured."
  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Tips & Tools: Need help navigating auto insurance?."
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "Protect yourself against uninsured motorists."
  4. Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation Insurance Division. "Consumers Guide to Auto Insurance."
  5. State of New Hampshire Insurance Department. "2022 Automobile Insurance Consumer Frequently Asked Questions."
  6. Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance. "Auto Insurance Consumer's Guide."
Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content

Evelyn Pimplaskar is Insurify’s director of content. With 30-plus years in content creation – including 10 years specializing in personal finance – Evelyn’s done everything from covering volatile local elections as a beat reporter to building fintech content libraries from the ground up.

Before joining Insurify, she was editor-in-chief at Credible, where she launched and developed the lending marketplace’s media partnership’s content initiative and managed the restructuring of the editorial team to enhance content production efficiency. Formerly, as tax editor for Credit Karma, Evelyn built a library of more than 300 educational articles on federal and state taxes, achieving triple-digit year-over-year growth in e-files from organic search.

Her early career included work as a content marketer, vice president and managing officer of a boutique public relations agency, chief copy editor for 14 weekly Forbes publications, reporting for large and mid-sized daily newspapers, and freelancing for the Associated Press.

Evelyn is passionate about creating personal finance content that distills complex topics into relatable, easy-to-understand stories. She believes great content helps empower readers with the information they need to make important personal finance decisions.

Ashley Cox
Edited byAshley CoxSenior Managing Editor
Headshot of Managing Editor Ashley Cox
Ashley CoxSenior Managing Editor
  • 7+ years in content creation and management

  • 5+ years in insurance and personal finance content

Ashley is a seasoned personal finance editor who’s produced a variety of digital content, including insurance, credit cards, mortgages, and consumer lending products.

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Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
Headshot of Konstantin Halachev, VP of Engineering at Insurify
Konstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

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