All states require drivers to buy automobile insurance, but the reality is that, whether out of ignorance, inability, or unwillingness, many drivers ignore this requirement. If you get into an accident with such a driver and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you may find yourself needing to take the uninsured driver to court in order to recover damages. Seeing as how that driver could not afford insurance in the first place, it seems unlikely that you will recover anything from them. For this reason, it is prudent to purchase uninsured motorist coverage where you have the option to do so. In a handful of states, it is required.
How it Works
Most uninsured motorist laws give coverage for all sums the owner would be legally entitled to recover if the uninsured motorist was insured, but the specifics involving just what the motorist would have been entitled to recover differ state by state.
Definition of Uninsured Vehicle
Definitions of an uninsured vehicle change slightly from state to state, but most define it as a driver who did not have any insurance, had insurance that did not meet state-mandated minimum liability requirements, or whose insurance company denied their claim or was not financially able to pay it. Most laws also specify that uninsured vehicles include:
Coverage of Persons
It is very important that the person claiming benefits under an uninsured motorist policy fall within the policy’s definition of an “insured.” Those covered differ from policy to policy and it is vital that you understand who is covered before making a purchase. People commonly covered include:
Underinsured Motorist Insurance
You can also purchase insurance that protects you from underinsured drivers in addition to uninsured ones. An underinsured driver is someone who met minimum legal financial responsibility requirements but did not have payment limits high enough to cover the damage they caused. Underinsured motorist protection pays you for damages that exceed the payment limits carried by a driver who is considered underinsured.