Auto Insurance Benefits – Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

What is Uninsured Motorist coverage? Well, it tends to be self-explanatory to some degree. Very simply, if the at-fault driver is uninsured and causes injury and damage to you, your Uninsured Motorist coverage – known as UM – will take the place of the at-fault driver’s financial responsibility and pay your claim. Again, that’s the simple definition.  There is much, much more to the rules, conditions and exclusions of the coverage.

Uninsured Motorist coverage affects two categories – one is Bodily Injury (UMBI) and the other is Property Damage (UMPD). Let’s discuss UMBI first. Your policy limits for UMBI will be the applicable limits for you and those family members considered first party insureds per your policy definitions. The applicable limits for others in your vehicle who sustain injury in this situation would be the state’s minimum required limits for BI. So, if you were in a state that had minimum limits of 15/30 for Bodily Injury but you had UMBI limits on your policy of 30/60, these higher limits would only apply to first party insureds (read your policy definitions!) and all others in your vehicle who sustained injury in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist would only have the 15/30 – regardless of the severity of their injuries.  Make sense?

UMPD is for the damage to your vehicle caused by the uninsured motorist. This is a separate coverage so don’t think that if you opted for the UMBI that you get both. Typically, if you have Collision coverage, you cannot have UMPD but may opt for Collision Deductible Waiver, which will pay the deductible in regard to an accident with an identifiable uninsured motorist. Same outcome. People who don’t have Collision will usually take the UMPD, which may carry a stated amount as maximum that will be paid out under the coverage.

“Identifiable” brings us back to the Uninsured Motorist coverage factor.  Is the uninsured driver a current, full-time driver in the state of Montana or was an occasional driver?  You’ll probably want to take that into consideration in terms of your coverage.  If the driver has adriving record that includes a enhancement penalty for speeding, running a stop sign, a record for an accident with a car or another state’s DMV requires that the insurance company look at the driving history going back several years.  Even if the bonus was removed in the last year, look at the record prior to that and decide if it’s worth it to re-up the coverage.

Again, the Montana state required minimum coverages are 25/50/25.  What does this mean?  Well, according to Montana state law, each driver should have $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 property damage coverage.  Are you trying to get cheap insurance?

Keep in mind that, in Montana, you must prove that you have the minimum liability coverage.  That means that your insurance company, by law, cannot rebate benefits from an accident that is your fault, etc.  It also means that if you want to work with an insurer that doesn’t make a habit of putting people in the hospital oricating their automobile, you might want to shop around and see if you can get a better rate from them.  Because not all insurers will deliver the same level of service, you can find great rates on the Internet by looking at other companies.

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