Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) vs. Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)- What is the Difference?

photo_58526_20151220-300x272At Tapalian Law, as auto accident lawyers we often use the terms UM and UIM with our clients. The average Rhode Island driver however, may find this confusing. Though two separate meanings, they are often used interchangeably and stand for Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). Unless you’ve been injured in a Rhode Island car accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may not completely understand the difference between the two similar sounding coverages. After reading further, you may want take into consideration your current auto insurance coverage to ensure you do carry this type of coverage. If you don’t carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you may be at financial risk in the event you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance coverage that protects you in the case of an accident with an at-fault driver who does not carry liability insurance. It is a form of protection offered along with your own auto insurance that you can elect. Rhode Island drivers are required to carry insurance. It is recommended, however not required, that RI drivers elect uninsured motorist coverage. As a conscientious driver, you may be taking a big financial risk to not elect uninsured motorist coverage. This additional protection is relatively inexpensive compared to your required liability coverage. If you are hit by an at-fault uninsured driver and experience injuries, your health insurance may cover the medical bills they are responsible for, however they would not cover co-pays, deductibles, and other expenses incurred due to the accident. This is where your uninsured motorist coverage would come in handy. If you do not carry this coverage and your personal injuries require a lengthy hospital stay and continued medical care, debt can quickly pile up and take a huge toll on the injured as well as their family. Not carrying UM is an expensive gamble to take.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, applies when the at-fault driver carries the required liability insurance but the limits on their policy are not enough to cover the damages you incurred. For example, your damages amount to $150,000 but the other driver’s coverage only covers up to $25,000 in damages (RI State Law). In this type of case, the at-fault driver’s insurance would pay up first, in this case the $25,000 limit, followed by your UIM coverage, up to the limits on your policy. If you do elect to carry uninsured/underinsured coverage on your auto insurance, keep in mind you can only elect an amount no greater than the amount of your liability policy. For example, if you have a $100,000 limit on your liability insurance, your uninsured/underinsured coverage can only go up to a $100,000 limit as well.

What to Do if You’ve Been Hurt in a RI Accident Caused by An Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

If you have been injured in a car accident by an uninsured driver, seek out the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in auto accidents. Your accident lawyer can review your options including seeking compensation for your damages from your uninsured motorist coverage. In the event you are hit by a driver who does carry liability insurance, you may not know that they are underinsured until you have completed treatment for your injuries and fully assessed all the damages. At that time, if the at-fault driver’s coverage fails to cover the amount of your damages, your Rhode Island personal injury lawyer will review your options including pursuing a claim against your own underinsured motorist coverage. For more information on uninsured motorist coverage, visit the Tapalian Law blog about the difference between liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage or contact us at our Providence office at


or with the


online contact form here.

Contact Information