Why Uninsured Motorist Coverage is Important

two people reviewing insurance documents

Recovering from any motor vehicle accident can be challenging, as it can leave you facing financial, physical, and emotional damages. The situation can quickly escalate when the driver who struck your vehicle doesn’t have auto insurance. In Rhode Island, roughly 15% of drivers on the road don’t carry automobile insurance. If you are injured due to a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver with no auto insurance, you could be left with out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills or health insurance deductibles.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage are two special types of car insurance that pay for medical bills and any other expenses for you and any passengers if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by:

  • A driver who doesn’t carry any liability auto insurance
  • A driver who doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover your medical expenses
  • A driver with an insurance company that denies your coverage or is no longer in business

Uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage cover your injuries, your passengers’ injuries, and damage to your vehicle if a driver without enough or no auto insurance hits you.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can pay for:

  • Car damage
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages if the injuries put you out of work
  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • If needed, funeral expenses

Uninsured motorist coverage is generally expressed as two numbers, such as 200/300, for example. This would translate to:

  • $200,000 bodily injury coverage per individual
  • $300,000 bodily injury coverage per accident

According to Rhode Island General Laws Title 27, Chapter 27-7, Section 27-7-2.1, an “underinsured motorist” falls under the same category as an “uninsured motorist.”

Section (a) states that no policy insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for property damage caused by collision, bodily injury, or death suffered by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this state with respect to any motor vehicle registered in this state unless coverage is provided in or supplemental to the policy, for bodily injury or death in limits set forth in each policy, but in no instance less than the limits set forth in Section 31-31-7 under provisions approved by the insurance commissioner, for the protection of persons insured under the policy who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles and hit-and-run motor vehicles because of property damage, bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death, resulting from that injury, sickness or disease. The insurer shall provide uninsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the insured’s bodily injury liability limits. Additionally, section (h) adds on stating that a person entitled to recover damages pursuant to this section is not required to make a claim against the uninsured or underinsured tortfeasor as a prerequisite to recover damages from the insurer providing coverage pursuant to this section.

Many drivers ask if an uninsured motorist covers a hit-and-run accident, and the answer is yes. You can use the uninsured property damage coverage to repair or replace your vehicle after the hit-and-run accident and the uninsured bodily injury coverage for any medical bills you may face. In Rhode Island, you are required to pay a deductible of up to $200 when using uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Due to this law, it is recommended that you only file a claim for a hit-and-run if the damage costs more than $200 in total to repair.

Every driver in Rhode Island is required to carry auto liability insurance coverage. The minimum liability coverage is $25,000 per individual, $25,000 in property damages per accident, and $50,000 for bodily injuries per accident. Additionally, insurance companies are required to offer uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the insured individual’s liability limits. However, the coverage itself is not required in Rhode Island, and insurance policy owners do have the option to decline the coverage. Although it is not required, you are taking a serious risk if you drive without it.

Some people debate whether they need uninsured motorist coverage when the primary function of uninsured motorist coverage is to pay medical bills after an auto accident with an uninsured driver. One of the primary reasons consumers believe they do not need UM coverage is that they are in good health. Still, you never know when an accident could happen. UM coverage may be a good deal for you if you have a high deductible health plan and would have to spend a large amount of money for hospitalization. With about 15% of drivers not carrying auto insurance, Rhode Island has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the United States. This proves that having uninsured motorist coverage is especially important in our state.
As legal and personal resources for the Rhode Island community, we strongly encourage drivers to speak with their insurance about uninsured motorist coverage. Accidents can always happen, and we want to ensure you are covered at all costs.

Sources: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/uninsured-motorist-coverage/

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