Uninsured Motorist Insurance: How Much is Enough?
Last week, we looked at Uninsured (and Underinsured) motorist insurance generally — what it covers, and what to do if an accident occurs.
Today, we’re returning to the subject to look at how much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage people need to purchase. Obviously, state-mandated minimum insurance levels won’t be all that helpful if a collision with an uninsured (or underinsured) motorist results in significant harm to you, your passengers, or your vehicle. It’s as important to have enough un-or-under-insured motorist insurance as it is to have the insurance in the first place.
DETERMINING HOW MUCH UNINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE TO CARRY.
Insurance limits are a moving target: they shift with a person’s income level, the value of the car that’s being insured, the number and experience level of the family’s drivers, and too many other factors to list. Ultimately, the amount of insurance you need is a personal question, which can only be answered by a consultation with a licensed insurance agent and a review of your personal situation.
However, there are some special issues that should be considered before deciding on the amount of coverage to carry:
1. People who earn a high income, are the family’s sole income earner, or who lack the assets to cover bills during a prolonged period of injury (or recovery) should definitely have enough insurance protection to cover the loss of income such an injury could cause.
2. Expensive cars cost more to repair than inexpensive, older models. It’s wise to carry enough uninsured (or underinsured) motorist coverage to cover repairs to your vehicle after a serious or significant collision.
3. Driving in urban areas increases the odds of collisions with uninsured or underinsured motorists (as well as the odds of accidents generally). The more you drive in congested urban environments, the higher the risk of you needing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
DON’T BE PENNY-WISE AND DOLLAR FOOLISH.
The cost of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage often causes people to hesitate, but beware: you probably want at least the same level of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as you carry for your own liability protection. This way, the coverage for your own car and family “matches” what you’re extending to other people.
Be sure to read your policy information carefully, and don’t assume the insurance company will give you a certain level of coverage unless you ask.
Don’t make the mistake of “adding” underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage without making sure you know the amount of the coverage you’re adding. Some insurance companies default to the lowest levels unless their clients specifically ask for a higher limit. Talk with your insurance agent, and make sure you’re getting the policy limit that’s right for you.
Insurance coverage is a highly personalized decision, and appropriate limits very widely depending on personal circumstances. Be sure to consult a licensed insurance broker and discuss the amount and type of coverage, deductibles, and policies that are right for you and your family. Never rely on this or any other online source to make important insurance decisions on your behalf.