Should I get Uninsured Motorists Protection?
Buying uninsured or underinsured motorist (UMP) coverage is a fundamental way to protect your loved ones and yourself. It applies when you or a member of your family is a driver, a passenger in your car or other automobile, when you are next to a car, on a bicycle or even walking like a pedestrian and if you or a family member are hurt by another car.
If the person who is causing the incident, the defendant, does not have liability insurance coverage or it is inadequate to compensate for the damages, including death, then you need Uninsured Motorist coverage through your own insurance company.
This coverage has a series of complications, three of which we will discuss. First, how much should I buy?
It is highly recommended that you get Uninsured Motorist coverage in at least the same amounts as your liability coverage. Liability coverage applies if you or a member of your family are guilty (responsible) and cause harm or damage to third parties.
Before insurance agents had to offer Uninsured Motorist Protection coverage in the same amounts as their liability coverage; and if they rejected or chose smaller amounts, then the rejection or reduction had to be in writing. In other words, the consumer, the client needed to be informed with this knowledge to decide what to do. Those days are gone. In general, an agent does not need to educate a client about this. As a result, many consumers do not even know what this coverage is, let alone make an informed decision about how much to buy.
Secondly, many people believe that they have “full coverage“, but in reality, they do not know the quantities. Full coverage can be similar to wearing shorts and a shirt or full-body armor. Unfortunately, in rural areas, for example, more than 15-20% of drivers do not have any liability insurance. Many would have wanted to buy higher amounts, such as $ 300/500k or more. As a result, it is essential to talk to your agent about the amounts you need and can afford.
In summary, review your policies with your agent and find out the answers to this checklist:
- Do I have adequate liability coverage? If not, am I exposed? In other words, can someone search my assets and income because I did not get enough coverage?
- Do I have UMP coverage and, if so, how much do I have and must I increase the amounts? The review with your agent of your combined family income, assets, your budget and other needs and concerns should allow you to participate in excellent decision-making.
Remember, the UDM limits must be equal to your liability coverage.