Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In today’s blog, I explain what uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) means to you, as either a Rhode Island or Massachusetts resident.  While the terms’ meanings are universal, their application differs depending on your home state.  So, make sure to watch out for practical differences in UM/UIM coverage for Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents.

Knowing what these terms mean is only half the battle.  Feel free to call Bottaro Injury Lawyers anytime to discuss your Massachusetts or Rhode Island automobile accident, free of charge.

concept visual of automobile insurance with blue SUV pictured above the word 'INSURANCE'

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)?

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) is a policy you have as part of your automobile insurance coverage.  When you opt for this coverage, you ensure your financial protection when another driver hits you and does not have any automobile insurance coverage.  This coverage also offers you financial protection when you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident and the perpetrator is not caught.

Underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) is also a policy you have as part of your automobile insurance coverage.  When you opt for this coverage, it provides you financial protection when the damages you sustain as a result of the accident exceed the policy limits of the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage.

How do UM/UIM claims actually work in Rhode Island?  

In Rhode Island, your UM and UIM coverage is permitted to “stack” on top of the bodily injury limits included in the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to provide you with extra compensation.  For example, let’s say you have a $25,000 UIM limit and the at-fault person has a $25,000 bodily injury limit.  You may receive up to $50,000 of compensation.  Contact Bottaro Injury Lawyers for help.

How do UM/UIM claims work in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, where we also practice law, you cannot stack UM or UIM coverage.  Rather, you may only recover your maximum coverage amount.  For instance, let’s say you have a $25,000 UIM limit and the at-fault party has a $25,000 bodily injury limit. You cannot “stack” your UIM $25,000 on the at-fault party’s $25,000.  In other words, you cap out at your own limit – $25,000.  If your UIM limit was $50,000, you would take the at-fault party’s $25,000 and file a claim with your insurance for the remaining $25,000 (totaling your max coverage, $50,000).

How do I know when or how to access my UM or UIM automobile insurance coverage?

Prior to filing any insurance claims, we at Bottaro Injury Lawyers conduct our own investigation to determine if the at-fault party has insurance.  If not, we file an UM/UIM motorist claim with your insurance company.  While your insurance is required to pay out your damages and injuries, it’s not often a cut-and-dry process.  Even though “your” insurance provides coverage, they are still a large company looking out for their bottom line (review my article on the big, bad insurance companies for more information).

Have you recently been involved in a car accident where you suspect the other driver does not have adequate – or any – automobile insurance coverage? Make sure you have a skilled attorney on your side.  Call Bottaro Injury Lawyers now for a free case assessment, 24/7.

Car insurance is expensive.  Should I really have UM/UIM coverage as part of my policy?

The short answer is yes, for your personal protection.  As of 2019, 16.5% of drivers in Rhode Island are uninsured.  Not only is this higher than the 12.6% national average, but Rhode Island is ranked as having the 11th highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the U.S… and Rhode Island isn’t the size of Texas.  Massachusetts’ rate of uninsured drivers is lower, 3.5%, but people “riding dirty” is not all you have to worry about.  Some states don’t require their residents to carry UM/UIM insurance at all.  For instance, if you get into an accident with a Pennsylvania resident, that person may not have any coverage to accommodate your damages and injuries, but otherwise be completely compliant with PA state law.  UM/UIM insurance is not always required in Rhode Island.* A $20,000 UM policy is required in Massachusetts.*

While I hope this article helped you gain a basic understanding of what uninsured and underinsured motorist vehicle coverage is, it’s always best to have a skilled attorney on your side to navigate the waters for you.

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