What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Important facts about Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and why this valuable insurance protects you in a crash with an uninsured driver
Uninsured motorist coverage protects drivers and families who are injured in car accidents caused by uninsured drivers. Unfortunately, this coverage is also more necessary now than ever in Michigan.
A staggering number of people are driving without auto insurance throughout the state. In some cities, like Detroit, it is estimated that over half of all drivers are driving without auto insurance. If you are hit by one of these uninsured drivers, UM coverage will likely be the only way to recover compensation and damages for a car accident.
Our auto accident attorneys have long recommended that all drivers should purchase UM coverage and insurance agents should be doing the same. Any auto insurance policy sold in Michigan today without UM coverage (and “underinsured motorist coverage”) is simply not enough to protect you and your family.
We recommend that every person obtain this extremely important and fortunately very inexpensive insurance coverage.
Insurance agents who don’t recommend UM coverage are doing a great disservice to their clients. If a person drives in Battle Creek, Flint, or Detroit, for example, where the numbers of uninsured drivers on our roads is very high, then these people are just rolling the dice on whether a negligent driver will have insurance or not. But with an estimated million drivers on Michigan roads driving without insurance, a car accident where the at-fault, negligent driver is also uninsured could happen anywhere. The only way to properly protect yourself and your family against a crash with an uninsured driver is to purchase UM coverage.
To learn more, please order your free copy of our book, “How much car insurance do I need?”
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) provides a valuable source of legal recovery for pain and suffering compensation and “excess” No-Fault PIP medical benefits and other economic loss for people who have been injured in a car accident caused by an “uninsured” driver.
In Michigan, an uninsured driver is one who does not have auto insurance coverage required by Michigan’s No-Fault law.
Specifically, UM coverage pays money damages to car accident victims when the driver who caused the accident had no insurance.
How does uninsured motorist coverage work?
For a person who has uninsured motorist coverage and has been injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver, he or she will file a claim with his or her own auto insurance company. The person’s own insurance company will pay the compensation and money damages that would otherwise have been recovered from an at-fault, uninsured driver’s auto insurance company if he or she had been insured.
To put it more simply, your own auto insurance company “steps into the shoes” of the uninsured, negligent driver and pays for all personal injury damages that the uninsured driver would have been responsible for by causing a car accident. Some insurance companies require that a lawsuit be filed that also names the uninsured negligent driver as a party in the lawsuit.
What does UM coverage cover?
UM coverage covers the pain and suffering compensation that could have been recoverable from the at-fault, uninsured driver’s auto insurance company if he or she had been properly insured as the law requires.
Additionally, once the new No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage levels become available in auto insurance policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020, UM coverage will cover a car accident victim’s claim for “excess” No-Fault PIP medical benefits that would have otherwise been covered by the at-fault, uninsured driver’s auto insurance company if he or she had been properly insured as the law requires.
Tips for filing an UM coverage claim
- In order to collect benefits under an UM policy, an injured person must show both (1) that the other driver was “uninsured” and (2) that the uninsured driver was at-fault in causing the car accident that resulted in the person’s injuries.
- Identify and comply with the notice requirements in your UM insurance policy. Many auto insurance companies require injured persons to provide notification of a car accident within a certain period of time (frequently within 30 to 90 days of the date of the car accident). If notice is not provided – or if notice is provided late – auto insurance companies can deny coverage for a UM claim depending on the policy language. UM coverage is contractual, which means the policy language will control.
- Identify and comply with your auto insurance company’s deadline for filing a claim for UM coverage benefits. This is very important for two reasons: (1) Because UM insurance is not mandatory under the No-Fault law, your UM auto insurance company has the authority to set whatever deadline it wants for the filing of UM claims; and (2) Your UM auto insurance company may try to set a shorter filing deadline than the three-year statute of limitations for most personal injuries (MCL 600.5805(2)), although insurance regulations that impose certain requirements on insurers when they make changes to the terms of their policies have made this practice less common. We strongly recommend you contact and review your UM policy contract language with an experienced Michigan auto accident attorney who can help you to comply with the contract language and so you do not unintentionally void your own UM protection.
- In hit-and-run situations (where the at-fault driver has fled the scene, thus making it impossible to identify a source of liability insurance coverage), many UM auto insurance companies will require injured persons who seek UM benefits to prove there was “actual contact” between the hit-and-run vehicle and the injured person.
- Watch out for “set-off” provisions in your UM coverage policy. Many auto insurance companies – especially Progressive – have included provisions in their UM policies allowing them to “set-off” or deduct from the UM benefits they owe any payments to the insured for No-Fault PIP benefits coverage of accident-related medical expenses and lost wages.
- Read your UM policy carefully to find out if non-resident family members are covered and under what circumstances any such coverage may exist.
Do I need uninsured motorist coverage?
Yes. Our auto accident attorneys agree that uninsured motorist coverage is a “must have” for any car insurance policy.
Because of the problem of uninsured drivers in Michigan and in cities like Detroit, UM coverage is crucial. This will be the only way that you and your family will have the protection you need if you’re injured in a car crash caused by an uninsured driver.
Without UM (and without UM in the limits we recommend), you and your family are at risk of being unable to recover the pain and suffering compensation and the “excess” No-Fault PIP medical benefits that you would otherwise be entitled to.
How much uninsured motorist coverage do I need?
We recommend that drivers purchase uninsured motorist coverage insurance with limits of at least $500,000 per person and $1,000,000 per accident. Fortunately, this coverage is very inexpensive.
Is UM coverage necessary?
Yes. For all the reasons I’ve discussed above. If your insurance agent is not offering you this important contractual coverage, you should be finding a new insurance agent.
Is uninsured motorist coverage worth it?
Yes. Uninsured motorist coverage is vital to protecting you and your family if you’re injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver. It is also very inexpensive.
For the price of a movie ticket and a box of popcorn, a driver can easily purchase UM coverage for the coverage limits that our attorneys are recommending ($500,000/$1 million per accident).
Do I need to have UM coverage if I have health insurance?
Yes. First, UM coverage is not meant to pay for medical bills or medical treatment. UM coverage is relied upon to compensate for an injured person’s pain and suffering and injuries and any excess economic loss and medical bills not covered by health insurance.
Second, even if an injured person does have health insurance, if his or her injuries require medical care and treatment that is not covered by health insurance, or that exceeds the applicable care available under the health insurance or that exceeds the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level in Michigan after July 1, 2020, then UM coverage will allow the injured person to pursue a claim for “excess” No-Fault PIP medical benefits.
Do I need uninsured motorist coverage if I have collision and comprehensive?
Yes. Whereas collision and comprehensive coverage will cover physical damage to your car or truck, only uninsured motorist coverage will cover pain and suffering compensation and “excess” No-Fault medical benefits as a result of a car accident caused by an uninsured driver.
Is uninsured motorist coverage required?
No. Uninsured motorist coverage is optional and not required. It is contractual coverage that must be added to a car insurance policy. Our attorneys strongly recommend that all Michigan drivers purchase it.
Unfortunately, too many insurance agents fail to properly inform customers about the availability and the value of UM coverage.
Car Accident Lawyers of Michigan Auto Law Can Help You
For more than 50 years and three generations, our car accident lawyers at Michigan Auto Law have specialized in helping people who have been injured in serious car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents and in representing injury victims in insurance litigation involving claims for UM benefits.
If you have been injured in an auto accident and need help obtaining your UM coverage benefits, please call one of our experienced auto accident attorneys for a free consultation at (800) 777-0028.