The difference between UM and UIM — and what it means when you’re on the road

You never know when you might get in an auto accident — or who the other driver will be. According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers doesn’t carry auto insurance. If your car is hit by one of those drivers, it could mean substantial costs to you.

That’s where uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists coverage come in. They often are built right into your auto policy, although the coverage requirements vary by state.

Uninsured Motorists coverage (UM) protects you if your vehicle is hit by a driver without auto insurance, or if you’re involved in a hit and run. Your insurance will pay for medical bills and lost wages for you, your family members, and/or other passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident, up to your limits.

Underinsured Motorists coverage (UIM) applies when the driver who causes the accident has liability insurance, but the limits aren’t high enough to cover the damages. In this case, the other driver’s insurance would pay first, and your UIM coverage would make up the difference in costs, up to your limits.

So where do you set the limits for UM and UIM? Insurers typically recommend matching the amount of bodily injury liability coverage included on your auto policy, but you should work with your insurance agent to determine the right amount for you.

It’s important to note that UM and UIM usually don’t cover property damage to your vehicle. You would need to submit a collision claim to your own policy, and it would be subject to the deductible. However, if available, you can choose to add UM property damage to your auto policy for an additional premium.

Check your policy and talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have the appropriate coverage.

Accidents happen – but what happens next? 8 steps to give you peace of mind after an auto accident

As a safe driver, you take steps to avoid accidents, like checking your blind spot, using turn signals, and allowing enough distance between vehicles.

But even if you use all possible precaution, an auto accident still can happen — and it’s important to know what to do next so you can stay calm and safe.

Follow these steps after an accident:
  1. Do not leave the scene.
          • Call the police.
          • Don’t move any injured people unless
            absolutely necessary.
          • Direct other traffic around the accident.
  1. Record names, addresses, phone, and driver’s license numbers of all drivers.

  2. Get descriptions and license plate numbers of all cars involved.

  3. Get names, addresses, and phone numbers of all passengers and any witnesses.

  4. Diagram the accident, showing all cars involved.

  5. Make an immediate report to the police.

  6. State the facts of what you saw and what happened when asked by the investigating officer or an identified representative of your insurance carrier. Do not accept or place blame for the accident.

  7. Contact your insurance agent or carrier to report the incident, providing as many details as possible. 
If you’re a SECURA policyholder, we have a brochure you can keep in your car to help you complete these steps. Email us for a copy.