Driving Without Insurance – Who Pays?

Car in an accident

Has your insurance agent ever discussed uninsured motorist coverage with you?

If you currently have the minimum required amount of auto insurance (for the state of Wisconsin), then it’s guaranteed you already uninsured motorist coverage or UM coverage. Though it is not required in all states, it is a requirement in Wisconsin.

But what does UM coverage actually do?

There are quite a number of misconceptions surrounding this coverage type. Frankly, it isn’t surprising. Despite being required, it’s not a well-known form of insurance. 

Ahead, we’ll define what UM coverage is, outline the sub-types that are available, and explain why it’s crucial to have ample amounts of this coverage for your protection whenever you’re on the road.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Explained

We can best define uninsured motorist coverage by starting with an example:

Let’s say you’re driving east along 2 for a family day at Lake Superior. All of a sudden, a car going west crosses the median, swipes the side of your car, and sends both of you spinning onto the shoulder. 

It takes a moment to recover and make sure your family members are alright. Some of them have sustained only small injuries, but they’ll still need medical assistance. Your car is also damaged. 

You call the police, then get out to speak to the other driver and exchange information. However, quickly, it becomes apparent that the other driver has no insurance.

This is a situation that all too many drivers find themselves in. They are insured, but other drivers aren’t. In fact, one in seven American drivers doesn’t have insurance.

How Uninsured Motorist Can Save the Day

In the example above, there would inevitably be expenses that would need to be paid. Naturally, these expenses should be paid by the at-fault driver. 

If the at-fault driver had insurance, their insurance would pay for them. Specifically, their liability insurance would pay the expenses of the other party. 

  • Property damage liability insurance would cover vehicle damage expenses
  • Bodily injury liability insurance would cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages, if applicable

However, when a driver does not have insurance, who pays?

Smart drivers have an adequate amount of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to save the day in these situations. But remember that UM coverage only pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. It does not cover property damage. 

Again, UM is required in Wisconsin, so most drivers in the state should have it. Like any type of insurance, however, there are UM coverage limits. Make sure you have ample limits to stay protected.

What to Do for Property Damage Caused by Uninsured Drivers

In Wisconsin, you cannot purchase UMPD or uninsured property damage coverage. But it is available in other states and takes care of damage caused by uninsured drivers. 

As a result of UMPD coverage not being available in Wisconsin, you’ll have to have collision coverage to take care of any property damage caused by uninsured drivers. This is an optional form of coverage, so be sure to ask your agent about it.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage Explained

Lastly, keep in mind that you should have protection from underinsured motorists too (those with only a small amount of liability coverage). This is not a required type of coverage, but it is extremely useful in cases where you still need to be “made whole” even after the at-fault driver’s insurance has paid for your damages up to their policy limits.

Need auto insurance advice? Our experienced and courteous agents at Main Street Insurance want to help. We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your auto insurance options, including UM and UIM coverage. Call or stop in today to find out more.