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Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Why do I need it?

In a perfect world, everyone would carry auto liability insurance, eliminating the need for Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM). Unfortunately, despite the laws in place and the efforts to enforce those laws, there are still drivers who escape their responsibilities and cause injuries and property damage to others. Statistics estimate somewhere around 13% of drivers nationwide fail to carry auto liability insurance.

Of as much concern is that an auto can be legally insured, and still be drastically unable to pay for the resulting costs of an auto accident. Consider this: in the state of Idaho, the legal minimum limits of auto liability are $25,000 per person /$50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $15,000 per accident for property damage. Anyone who has paid for medical care or car repairs at today’s costs can readily see that these limits won’t stretch very far! If these legal limits of bodily injury liability sound low, they’re still higher than the required limits of ten other states in the US. Only seven states require higher limits for bodily injury liability than required by Idaho, and even so, the highest requirement is still only $50,000 per person /$100,000 per accident.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) is designed to assist in situations where the other driver is legally insured, but their liability limits are less than needed to cover the injuries they’re responsible for. An additional consideration is a comparison of the responsible driver’s liability insurance to the limit of UIM you carry. The laws differ by state in this regard, with examples below on how UIM coverage applies in Idaho:

  • Your UIM limit $100,000 per person /$300,000 per accident bodily injury

  • Other driver’s liability limit -$100,000 per person /$300,000 per accident bodily injury

  • UIM Coverage available to you $0

  • Your UIM limit $250,000 per person /$500,000 per accident bodily injury

  • Other driver’s liability limit - $100,000 per person /$300,000 per accident bodily injury

  • UIM Coverage available to you $150,000 per person /$200,000 per accident bodily injury

Idaho is known as a “limits trigger” state, so your policy’s UIM limit applies only to the extent that it is higher than the other driver’s liability limit.

You may ask “if I have health or medical insurance, do I really need UM/UIM coverage?” That’s a great question, and something to keep in mind is that by comparison to health insurance the cost of UM/UIM is relatively low. While only applicable to auto accidents, UM/UIM coverage is also without the high deductibles and coinsurance provisions of health insurance.

Some insurance companies skimp on UM and UIM coverages, including only the minimum limits in an effort to appear more cost-competitive on quotes and policies. At The Hartwell Corporation, we see the impact that uninsured and underinsured vehicles have on the lives of those they cause injuries to. We feel so strongly on the issue that we only quote UM/UIM limits that match the auto liability limit you select to carry, and as our standard we don’t quote minimum limits.

We hope you agree that protecting you and your family with UM/UIM coverage is as important as the liability limits you select to fulfill your responsibility to someone else should you cause an accident.

Sally Perry, AINS

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