This is a question that I am often asking as the attorney for someone who has been seriously injured in a car crash. The client usually has no idea if they have this coverage which is also referred to as UIM and UM. Underinsured motorist coverage means that you are protected (and your passengers) are protected if the person who hit you does not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills and other damages. That makes them an “underinsured motorist.” UM is another coverage to protect you and your passengers. This insurance is used when the driver who hit you has no insurance at all and is an “uninsured motorist.” Both of these scenarios occur frequently. Arizona has very low minimum limits of $15,000/$30,000. If you are hit by someone who has minimum limits the most available to compensate you from that driver is $15,000 per person or $30,000 per vehicle (with no one person getting more than $15,000). To put this into perspective, an air evac bill from Prescott to Phoenix is about $65,000. Obviously, there is not enough money to cover the damages or bills in a serious injury situation. Without UIM, the client is stuck owing the bills for his own medical care caused by the carelessness of another driver.
However, if you have underinsured motorist coverage you have additional insurance available to you. You are able to purchase UIM and UM up to the limits of your liability coverage. So, if you have $100,000/$300,000 to protect other people if you cause an accident (liability coverage) then you should also have the same limits in UIM and UM to protect yourself and your passengers when you are not at fault but the other driver doesn't have any or enough insurance for your losses. UM and UIM are not expensive and usually only add $5-$15 a month onto a premium. That is an investment that is well worth protecting yourself and your loved ones. Additionally, if you need to use UIM or UM after a car collision, by Arizona statute (A.R.S. 20-263), your insurance rates cannot be increased because you used this coverage. Bottom line- call your agent and make sure you have protected yourself and your loved ones with UIM and UM up to the liability limits on your policy.