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What to know about underinsured motorist protection

All Illinois motorists must carry insurance to drive their car on public roads. Most all states require the driver to have at least liability insurance. Many drivers may wonder what happens if they get into an accident with an uninsured driver.

Facts and stats about uninsured motorist coverage

The U.S. had an uninsured driver rate of 12.6% in 2019, but state averages vary. Uninsured drivers costs insured drivers $13 billion in medical bills and property damage in 2016.

Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for damages caused by uninsured drivers, and half the states require this coverage to offset the financial impact. Illinois requires drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. The liability amount commonly cannot exceed the state limits on standard liability. For example, if the state limits liability to $30,000, the driver can’t buy anymore than that.

Uninsured Motorist Protection only pays for injuries to the driver and not the vehicle. Drivers also need extra coverage, commonly called Uninsured Motorist Property Damage, to pay for damage to their vehicle.

Who pays for damages?

In no-fault states, the insured driver’s coverage commonly covers medical bills, regardless of fault or if the other driver has insurance. People may have a harder time suing the at-fault driver in no-fault states, unless it involves a serious injury.

In fault states, the driver’s Med Pay or PIP commonly covers their medical bills. Uninsured Motorist Protection only pays when the driver is not at fault for the accident. In some states, the driver in a hit and run must be identified before the insurance pays. Some states also require the provider to notify them when a driver’s policy lapse to make identifying uninsured motorists easier.

Drivers should report car accidents caused by an uninsured driver immediately, and file claims as soon as possible. Most all states set limits on how long drivers have to file claims.