Pennsylvania Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Explained
Although state law requires that all licensed drivers carrying Pa car insurance have liability coverage in order to legally drive a car, the reality is that many drivers don’t comply with these laws. A considerable number, nearly 15%, of drivers on the road do not have liability insurance. For obvious reasons, these drivers are known as uninsured motorists (UM). Other drivers comply with the law, but will only carry the minimum liability coverage that is required by the state. This minimum coverage is often not enough to cover the medical bills or property damage costs that are incurred in an accident.
Insurance companies refer to these drivers as underinsured motorists (UIM).
In order to protect their clients in case of an accident, insurance companies offer uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This insurance will cover the expenses incurred by victims, when the at-fault driver either does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover the costs involved. It will also cover medical and property expenses from a hit-and-run accident.
For instance, if the medical costs of the victim come to $25,000 and the driver’s liability only pays up to $15,000, then the victim’s UM/UIM coverage will pay the remaining $10,000 in medical bills. Most insurance companies offer separate policies for UM/UIM bodily injury liability and property damage liability insurance.
Who is covered?
Your uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage includes you (the policyholder), other drivers covered by the policy, and any passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
What is covered?
Like liability insurance, UM/UIM bodily injury coverage is purchased with limits. If the at-fault driver is an uninsured motorist, then your policy will pay up to the per person/per accident limits purchased. If the at-fault driver is an underinsured motorist, then his policy will pay to its limit, and your policy will then pay the balance, up to the limit purchased. Like liability coverage, UM/UIM bodily injury insurance covers bodily injuries, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
If you purchase an UM/UIM property damage insurance policy, then the coverage will pay a certain amount toward the repair of your vehicle and some policies may include personal property. These amounts can be set by the state, and will vary by state and policy provisions. It is not available in all states. UM/UIM property damage does not replace collision insurance. The limits are not enough to cover all repair/replacement costs, and it only applies if you are in an accident that was caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Maybe it’s time to check your Pennsylvania auto insurance policy and see if your coverage is adequate to cover you against an uninsured driver.