Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

As a driver, you need to fully understand your auto insurance policy and the coverages you have purchased. One of the most important yet often misunderstood coverages is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This protects you and your passengers if you are involved in a car accident caused by a driver who does not have sufficient insurance. In this article, you will learn key facts about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, why you need it, how it works if you file a claim, and how much coverage you may need. Being informed on this topic is essential to ensure you and your family are properly protected financially in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) are optional auto insurance coverages that provide protection in the event of an accident with a driver who has little or no insurance.

  • UM coverage compensates you for injuries and damages caused by an uninsured motorist.
  • UIM coverage compensates you when an at-fault driver's insurance is inadequate to cover your losses.

Both UM and UIM coverages help ensure you don't have to pay out of pocket for costs from an accident that wasn't your fault. They provide coverage for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage.

To determine if you need UM/UIM coverage, find out your state's minimum liability coverage required for drivers. If it's low, UM/UIM can help make up the difference in the event of a serious accident. The more coverage you purchase, the more you'll pay in premiums. But higher coverage also means less risk of being undercompensated for losses from an underinsured driver.

Talk to your insurance agent to determine appropriate UM/UIM coverage limits based on your state requirements, assets, and risk tolerance. While not legally required, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is important for most drivers to consider carrying. It provides essential financial protection that can be well worth the cost.

Why You Need Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Texas

In Texas, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) is crucial to have as part of your auto insurance policy. This coverage protects you financially in the event of an accident with a driver who has no insurance or does not have enough coverage.

  • It's required. Texas law mandates that auto insurers offer UM/UIM coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage. While you can reject this coverage in writing, it is not advisable.
  • Many drivers are uninsured. Estimates indicate that about 20% of drivers in Texas are uninsured. Without UM/UIM, you would have to pay out of pocket for injuries and damage if hit by an uninsured driver.
  • Underinsured drivers abound. Even if a at-fault driver has insurance, their limits may be too low to cover all costs from an accident. Your UM/UIM kicks in to make up the difference so you are not stuck with expenses.
  • Medical bills add up quickly. The average auto accident claim in Texas is over $20,000. Hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy and other treatments resulting from a serious accident can easily exceed most drivers' liability limits. UM/UIM provides financial protection in these situations.
  • It protects all occupants. UM/UIM coverage applies to you as the policyholder as well as any passengers in your vehicle. This includes family members and friends riding with you.

UM/UIM coverage is essential for responsible drivers in Texas. For a relatively small premium, it gives you peace of mind that you and your passengers will be financially protected if injured in an accident by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Consult your auto insurance provider for details on obtaining this important coverage.

How Much Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Should You Carry?

When purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, determining how much coverage to carry is an important decision. As a general rule of thumb, you should match your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits to your policy’s liability coverage limits. This helps ensure you have adequate coverage in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Consider Your Assets and Income

The more assets and income you have to protect, the higher your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits should be. If you own a home, have significant savings, or earn a high income, opt for higher coverage limits to shield yourself financially in a worst-case scenario accident. Limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident are a good starting point for those with assets to protect.

Account for Medical Bills and Lost Wages

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for medical bills and lost wages in addition to damage to your vehicle. Higher coverage limits mean greater coverage for medical care and ability to recover lost income in the event of severe injuries. If you want the maximum coverage for all possible losses, choose the highest available uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits for your state.

Consider Additional Options

Some auto insurers offer additional options beyond bodily injury and property damage coverage that can supplement your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. These include separate coverage for damage to your vehicle (comprehensive and collision coverage) as well as coverage for emergency roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and towing. Additional coverage options provide more well-rounded protection, especially if you have a new or luxury vehicle.

In summary, your ideal uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits depend on your own situation and needs. Match or exceed your liability limits, account for your assets and income, consider potential medical and lost wage costs, and explore additional options for more comprehensive coverage. The more you can do to protect yourself in any scenario, the safer and more secure you will feel out on the road.

When Can You Make a Claim Against Your Own Uninsured/Underinsured Policy?

You can make a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in several situations:

If the at-fault driver has no insurance.

If the driver who caused the accident does not carry auto insurance, you can file a claim with your own uninsured motorist coverage to recover damages. Your insurance provider will investigate the claim as if it were filed against the other driver's insurance.

If the at-fault driver's limits are too low.

In some cases, the liability limits on the at-fault driver's policy may be insufficient to cover the damages from an accident. If their policy limits do not fully compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses, you can file an underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company for the difference. For example, if the other driver has $25,000 in coverage but you have $50,000 in damages, you could recover $25,000 from their insurance and $25,000 from your underinsured motorist coverage.

If a hit-and-run or unidentified driver is involved.

If an unidentified hit-and-run driver causes an accident and leaves the scene, you will not have any options to recover damages from the at-fault driver's insurance. However, you can file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance provider in this scenario. Your insurance company will investigate the claim as if the unknown driver's insurance was involved.

If the at-fault driver denies responsibility or liability.

Rather than engaging in a lengthy dispute to prove the other driver's fault, you can file a claim through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Your insurance provider will review details of the accident to determine fault and liability as if handling a claim against the other driver's insurance. If they find the other driver was majority or fully at-fault, they will compensate you for damages through your uninsured/underinsured coverage.

What to Do After an Accident With an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver in Texas - Contact a Texas Car Accident Lawyer

After an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist in Texas, it is important to take the proper steps to protect yourself legally and financially. You should contact the police immediately to report the accident and file an official police report. Be sure to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, even if they are uninsured.

Seek Medical Attention

Your health and safety should be your top priority after any car accident. Seek medical attention right away for any injuries, no matter how minor they seem. Adrenaline can mask pain, and some injuries do not become apparent until hours or days after an accident. Getting checked out by a doctor will also provide official documentation of any injuries for your insurance claim.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Notify your own insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with the details of the incident, including information on the other driver. Your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage should help cover costs like vehicle repairs, medical bills, and lost wages. However, insurance companies do not always fully reimburse claimants in a timely or fair manner.

Consult an Accident Attorney

Speaking with an experienced car accident lawyer in Texas is highly advisable to help you pursue compensation for damages. Attorneys know the complex laws regarding UM/UIM claims and can properly value the full costs of your injuries and losses. They can also handle negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf to fight for a fair settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured/underinsured driver to pursue compensation in court.

Following these steps after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist can help minimize the frustration and financial hardship that often result from such situations. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer ensures you have an advocate to help you get the compensation you deserve so you can focus on your recovery.


As we have seen, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is an important part of any auto insurance policy. Though not required in all states, these coverages provide essential financial protection when an at-fault driver either has no insurance or does not have enough coverage to pay for your damages and injuries. Evaluate your current policy limits and consider whether increasing them would be wise for you and your family. Also ensure you understand any applicable deductibles and exclusions. Educating yourself on uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is key to making sure you have sufficient protection on the road. With the right coverages, assistance of lawyers at Fletcher Law and limits selected, you can have greater peace of mind knowing you are protected if involved in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver.