What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage?

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Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage is an optional type of insurance you buy on your auto insurance policy to protect you and your family against vehicles that have inadequate insurance coverage.  Many cars on Washington state roadways do not buy enough auto insurance to cover all the damages caused by a car accident.

If you're seriously injured in a collision your doctor bills can quickly exceed the Washington state minimum insurance requirements of 25,000.  This is especially true for motorcycle and bicycle accidents.  A trip to the ER with broken bones or a serious head injury can easily cost over $10,000.  If you require surgery and several days in the hospital your doctor bills can push past the $25,000 quickly. 

When an at-fault driver does not have enough insurance your UIM coverage is design to step in and supplement the at-fault party’s insurance.  It’s designed to be another layer of protection for you.  Your UIM insurance will be asked to pay for all the damages you suffered in the accident caused by the negligence of the at-fault driver.

UIM insurance often pays:

  • Doctor bills
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses (like special braces, crutches, wheelchair rental, etc.)
  • Mileage to and from doctor appointments
  • Intangible harms like pain & discomfort

For example, assume you're seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and suffer a broken wrist and broken leg which both require surgery to repair at Harborview Medical Center.  You could easily have $40,000 in hospital bills and will miss three months of work resulting in $10,000 in lost wages.  

If you have UIM insurance with a limit of $300,000 and the at-fault driver only had $25,000 of liability insurance, then the at-fault driver's insurance will likely pay its policy limits of $25,000 to you. (Assuming you have no fault in the accident.)  At that point, your UIM insurance will step in and be responsible for paying the remaining medical bills, lost wages, other out-of-pocket expense, and fairly compensate you for all other harms and losses.  

Note that this differs from Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, which covers you if the at-fault driver has no insurance or leaves the scene of the accident.

If you’re in a serious injury accident in Washington and don’t know if there’s adequate insurance to pay your bills, you probably should call an experienced Washington accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights. If you have questions call us at 425-399-7000.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.