Everything you need to know about uninsured motorists | PEMCO

April 12, 2024 by PEMCO Insurance

GettyImages-94474503-(2).jpgWhile driving without insurance is a huge risk for those who choose to forgo coverage, it’s also a risk to insured drivers on the road. However, if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver—and the uninsured driver is at fault—you and your loved ones will be protected if you have uninsured motorist coverage. 

This topic is timely. There are currently more uninsured drivers on the road than ever before. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 13% of drivers in the United States are uninsured. In Washington, however, that figure jumps to 16.5%. 

What’s an uninsured motorist? 

An uninsured motorist is someone who drives a vehicle without any liability insurance. This means that if they cause an accident, there is no insurance coverage to pay for the damage or injuries they inflict on others. 
Driving without insurance is illegal in most states, and can result in fines, license suspension, or even jail time. If you drive a vehicle that is registered in Washington state, your insurance policy must have liability coverage in the amount of 25/50/10. This means the limit is $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 for property damage per accident. PEMCO does not offer liability coverage this low for new customers. (Why? Carrying only the state minimums comes with a lot of risk.) 

In Oregon, the liability coverage requirements are 25/50/20. These limits are the same as mentioned above, but with $20,000 for property damage per accident instead of $10,000. Again, PEMCO does not offer coverage this low for new customers. 

What happens when an uninsured motorist hits me? 

If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you may face a lot of hassle and even personal financial loss (medical bills, car repairs, legal fees), depending on what insurance coverage you have. You may also have to deal with the uninsured driver directly, who may try to avoid responsibility or offer you a low settlement. 

To avoid these problems, it’s extremely important for you to have adequate insurance coverage that protects you from uninsured motorists—especially in the Pacific Northwest, where the rate of uninsured motorists is high. This is where Uninsured Motorist coverage comes in (or UM/UIM). 

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage? 

PEMCO offers uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which covers some of your damages that you are legally entitled to recover from the uninsured (or underinsured) driver. UM/UIM coverage could also apply if you’re in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver, if you’re a pedestrian or cyclist who’s hit by an uninsured driver, or if you’re a passenger in someone’s car that is hit by an uninsured driver. 

Uninsured motorist coverage usually covers your damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and lengthy rehabilitation. It can also cover physical damages, like the cost associated with repairing your vehicle, loss of use, and your deductible. 

Do all auto insurance policies have uninsured motorist coverage? 

No, not all auto insurance policies have uninsured motorist coverage. Some states do not require drivers to have UM/UIM coverage at all, or only require a minimum amount (keep in mind, the minimum amount may not be enough to cover your damages in a serious accident). In Washington state, you’re required to be offered uninsured motorist coverage by your insurance company. You’re allowed to reject it by filling out the appropriate forms. 

PEMCO recommends that you have UM/UIM coverage that matches your liability limits. This way, you can ensure that you have the same level of protection for yourself as you do for others—when you’re found legally responsible to others as the result of an auto accident. You can choose a lower limit, but you must sign a form acknowledging you’ve opted to carry lower UM/UIM limits than your liability. 

How can I make sure I have the right coverage? 

You can customize your PEMCO policies to suit your needs and budget. Don’t forget, you’re entitled to a free and comprehensive policy review at any time, which means a licensed agent will go through your needs, preferences, and current coverages, making sure to check for all applicable discounts you may be eligible for. You can reach us at 1-800-GO-PEMCO (1-800-467-3626).  

If you have any questions or concerns about uninsured motorist coverage, or any other aspect of your auto insurance, do not hesitate to contact us or your local agent. We’re here to help, so you can focus on worrying less and living more. You don’t have to do this insurance thing alone. 

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