When buying car insurance there are lots of different coverage issues to consider, most of us tend to focus on coverage for situations where we damage our vehicle, pay for damage to other peoples property and paying for damages if we physically injure another person. But, what if someone hits you? Have you ever said to yourself, "If someone else hits me then their insurance will pay." But, what if they don't have insurance or what if they have really low limits that doesn't cover the damage/injury they cause?
As of 2012, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates approximately 1 in 8 drivers (12.6%) across the country is driving without insurance.
Most states require drivers to have auto liability insurance, but a few do not including New Hampshire. While Massachusetts has a low incidence of uninsured drivers (4.0% in 2012), you are on the roads with drivers insured in other states or may visit another state yourself on vacation or for work. A popular vacation spot like Florida has among the highest uninsured driver rates with 23.8%. Drivers from all over visit New England, so you can't assume that everyone is as responsible as you.
You face an even greater risk of being hit by an “underinsured” driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your injuries. Massachusetts only requires minimum limits of $20,000/$40,000 bodily injury to others to register a vehicle...that won’t cover much in a serious accident. When you purchased your insurance, you probably purchased higher limits; however, you can't rely that others will be as responsible.
using your own auto insurance to protect you
So what can you do? You can protect yourself by having "uninsured and underinsured coverage" on your auto policy. Uninsured coverage pays for injuries resulting from an accident with a driver who is responsible for the injuries but has no liability coverage. Underinsured coverage is for situations when the responsible driver has insufficient liability limits to pay for your injuries. Generally, you can purchase uninsured and underinsured up to the limits of the "optional bodily injury to others coverage" that you have purchased. Ask yourself, why would I want to protect myself less than I protect others?
Talk to your agent about upgrading your coverage on your auto insurance policy to be protected in the event you're injured by an underinsured or uninsured motorist. If you have an umbrella policy, you may also be able to upgrade your umbrella coverage to include this protection.