Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Missouri
Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is a critical component of auto insurance that protects you when you’re in an accident with a driver who has insurance, but their policy limits are not enough to cover the total cost of your damages. In the state of Missouri, UIM coverage is not required by law; however, it’s strongly recommended to consider this coverage due to its potential benefits.
UIM coverage in Missouri steps in when the at-fault driver’s liability coverage limit is exhausted. For instance, if your damages total $75,000, but the at-fault driver’s policy limit is $50,000, UIM coverage can help pay for the remaining $25,000, assuming you have enough UIM coverage. It’s important to note that UIM coverage applies to both bodily injury and property damage, which includes medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle repair or replacement costs.
An important aspect of UIM coverage in Missouri is the ‘trigger point’ for its application. A trigger point is the point at which UIM coverage begins to pay. In Missouri, the trigger point is set at a ‘limits less than limits’ rule, meaning that if the at-fault driver’s liability limits are less than your UIM limits, then your UIM coverage can kick in.
However, one critical point to remember is that UIM coverage does not stack on top of the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. For instance, if you have $100,000 in UIM coverage, and the at-fault driver has $50,000 in liability coverage, you won’t have $150,000 available. Instead, your insurer would pay up to $50,000 in addition to what the at-fault driver’s insurance pays, giving you a total of $100,000.
The cost of UIM coverage in Missouri varies depending on various factors, including your driving record, age, vehicle type, and the amount of coverage you choose. However, considering the protection it provides against drivers who may not have enough insurance to cover your damages, the cost of adding UIM coverage is generally reasonable compared to the potential risk of significant out-of-pocket expenses.
Having UIM coverage becomes more important considering the increasing medical costs and the number of underinsured drivers on Missouri roads. Despite Missouri law requiring all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance, many drivers choose the minimum coverage, which may not be sufficient to cover all expenses in a serious accident.
When choosing the right amount of UIM coverage, it’s important to consider your personal needs and financial situation. It’s generally recommended to choose a limit that matches your liability coverage. Consult with a trusted insurance agent or advisor who can help assess your individual needs and recommend appropriate coverage levels.
In conclusion, while UIM coverage is not mandatory in Missouri, it’s a crucial safety net that can protect you from substantial financial hardship in the event of an accident with an underinsured driver. Its importance, coupled with the relatively reasonable cost, makes it a valuable addition to any auto insurance policy.