Written by: Portrait Photo Of Tyrone J. Maho Tyrone J. Maho

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) are insurance coverages offered and included in your California auto insurance policy unless you choose to waive it in writing. This coverage will pay if another driver is at fault who:

  1. Carries no insurance
  2. Carries insurance, but not enough to cover the full medical expenses and losses
  3. Cannot be found after fleeing the scene of a “hit and run.”

There is a minimum liability insurance coverage of “15/30/5” required by California law  that will pay up to:

  • Bodily injury coverage or death of $15,000 per person
  • Total bodily injury or death of $30,000 per accident (for a combination of all persons in the other vehicles)
  • Property damage of $5000 to other vehicles (collision coverage)

Coverage of 15/30/5 is often too low to cover damages after a car crash, and one out of eight drivers has no insurance coverage at all.

Having UM/UIM coverage can be beneficial if you suffered injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured driver. This coverage can allow you to collect damages for lost wages, medical expenses, personal property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages.

If you need assistance understanding uninsured/underinsured auto coverage, our California auto accident attorneys can help.

What is California Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage?

Many drivers are unwilling to pay the price for insurance premiums. Following a car accident, this creates the burden of covering medical expenses and damages to government programs and private health insurers, such as Medi-Cal and Medicare.

In an attempt to avoid this issue, California requires auto insurers to offer coverage for crashes caused by uninsured drivers. This extra coverage is called uninsured motorist coverage (UM). This coverage can consist of:

  • UMPD– Uninsured motorist property damage
  • UMBI– Uninsured motorist bodily injury

Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory for car insurance policies in California unless a written waiver is signed by the policyholder.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage

California has a minimum liability coverage amount, which is often insufficient to cover full damages in accidents that are more than a fender bender. These coverages are especially inadequate in situations where multiple occupants are in the vehicle during a serious crash.

With UIM, the at-fault driver is treated as uninsured for damages that exceed their policy limits. Like uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is mandatory in California, so it is included in the car insurance policy unless a written waiver is signed by the policyholder.

Uninsured Word In Blocks

If I Have Health Insurance Do I Need Uninsured Motor Coverage?

UIM/UM is first-party insurance allowing you to recover all compensatory damages from your own insurance company, up to your policy limit, if an accident is not your fault. This coverage can pay for services typical health insurance plans will not cover, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care.

UIM/UM Coverage can be used for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost time at work
  • Property damage to your vehicle

In addition, UIM/UM can be used to cover all household family members. This covers you and your family members anytime you are:

  • An occupant or driver of a motorcycle or vehicle
  • A pedestrian

UIM/UM can also be used for covering non-household family members and friends only when the collision occurred while they were:

  • A driver of your vehicle with permission
  • A passenger in your vehicle
  • Entering or exiting your car

How Much UIM/UM Do I Need?

California insurers typically offer a default UIM/UM of:

  • $3,500 for damage to property
  • $30,000 for bodily coverage or death per person
  • $60,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident (to all people in the other vehicles combined)

You have the option to buy a policy allowed under state law with minimum UIM/UM coverage of:

  • $3,500 for damage to property
  • $15,000 for bodily injury coverage or death per person
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident (to all people in the other vehicles combined)

It is important to remember that in California, UIM/UM will apply only if the other driver’ is not insured and/or the other driver’s insurance coverage is lower than your UIM coverage. 

Get Help Understanding UIM/UM Coverage

If you have been injured in an accident and need help understanding your insurance policy and your legal rights, contact the auto accident attorneys from Maho Prentice, LLP, using our online form.

By Maho | Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law on November 2, 2021