All auto insurance companies offer Underinsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorists coverage for bodily injury when they write a policy. However, drivers that choose state minimums can opt out of these insurance options.
What does that mean for other drivers? Unfortunately, it can leave them quite vulnerable. State minimums offer woefully inadequate coverage and an accident could mean their insurance won’t cover expenses. Even worse, 15.2 percent of drivers in Rhode Island have no insurance at all.
Without additional protection, conscientious drivers could end up holding the bag for incidents involving those who don’t properly insure.
UM & UIM Benefits
Both coverages provide protection if you’re in an accident when you’re not legally liable. Normally, the other driver’s insurance policy would kick in to cover damages to your vehicle, medical expenses for you and your passengers, and lost wages. You wouldn’t pay out-of-pocket.
However, as mentioned many drivers do not have insurance or enough insurance to cover expenses. What happens then? You may be able to recoup your losses in court, but chances are if they don’t have enough for insurance they certainly won’t be able to pay any settlements awarded to you in a timely fashion.
Unless you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages you’re leaving yourself vulnerable. Here’s what each does and how they protect you. In Rhode Island, consider yourself lucky that if you have one, you have the other thanks to state law.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
As the name suggests, this coverage kicks when a person that is legally liable for an accident doesn’t have auto liability insurance. It can pay for damages to your vehicle and medical expenses that would normally be covered under the other driver’s insurance policy. It can also protect you in a hit and run.
Clearly, without this coverage you could end up paying a huge amount to repair your car and recover if you are injured in the accident. Not only would that add insult to injury, it could cause you financial ruin.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
Unfortunately, Rhode Island state liability minimums are very low ($25,000 per person for bodily injury with a maximum of $50,000 per incident and $25,000 for property damage per incident). An accident could easily surpass these limits leaving you paying out-of-pocket unless you have additional coverage.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage protects you by paying damages and expenses beyond what their policy limits.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Differences in Rhode Island
Although the insurance world treats uninsured and underinsured motorist as two different coverages, by definition, the State of RI has actually simplified it. Rhode Island personal auto policyholders can consider themselves lucky because state law treats these coverages as one and the same. When you purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage in RI, the insurance carrier endorses the standard policy with a RI specific endorsement required by law which also provides you with underinsured motorist coverage. What a deal!
If you have collision coverage, you may already have property damage protection under your current policy. Talk to your insurance agent to avoid redundancy.
Even if you have Medical payments coverage (Med Pay) or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) your policy limits may not be as high as those offered in uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverages.
The likelihood of an incident with an underinsured or uninsured driver is higher than one might expect and a risk most drivers won’t want to take. Discuss UM/UIM coverage with your insurance agent. The relatively small increase in your premium could save you a bundle in the long run.