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Did you know that 1 in 5 Washington state drivers do not carry insurance? And another 20-25% have only the state minimum liability limits – just $25,000? In Washington – and in many states – you have a substantial risk of being hit by a driver who doesn’t have adequate insurance.

That’s why one of the most important coverages an individual or family can have is Excess Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) on their umbrella policy. I know – it’s a mouthful! But it’s a critical – and affordable – protection. We recommend all our clients add additional UIM coverage on their umbrella policies.

Before we talk about why it’s such a key coverage, let’s unpack what UIM is.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

UIM protects you and your family members if you are hit by another driver who is at fault but doesn’t have enough insurance or assets to take care of your injuries or losses. Basically, UIM allows you to collect from your own insurance company what you should have been able to collect from the other person had they had adequate insurance.

UIM covers a range of costs, including medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and the cost of retrofitting your home or car to accommodate a disability.

Don’t I have UIM coverage on my auto policy? Why do I need it on my umbrella, too?

Anyone who has an auto insurance policy should have underinsured motorist coverage. If you’re injured and the other driver is at fault and underinsured, you should have UIM coverage at the same level as the liability coverage that you carry.

For instance, if you have $500,000 of liability coverage to protect you if you are at fault in a collision, then you should have $500,000 of underinsured motorist coverage as well. (You can choose to carry less than $500,000 in liability, but we never recommend that.)

Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with many of our own clients, $500,000 is often not enough to cover all your expenses if you or a family member are injured in a serious collision. When you consider the cost of an emergency room visit, follow-up surgeries, or being out of work for an extended period, the total can add up very quickly.

Serious collision

Now, with nearly all our companies, you have the option to add $1 million of underinsured motorist protection to your umbrella policy. Just like we recommend carrying additional liability coverage via your umbrella, to protect you if you are at fault, we also recommend you add the additional UIM coverage. Combined with the UIM on your auto policy, you’ll have a total of $1.5 million of protection if you’re hurt by a driver who is at fault, but not adequately insured.

Real-life client stories

Sadly, some of the largest claims we’ve seen in our agency, especially recently, have been underinsured motorist claims.

In one example, a couple was crossing the street after a sporting event and were struck by a driver while they were in the crosswalk. Husband and wife were both hospitalized with serious injuries and faced a lengthy recovery, including needing to hire in-home care.

Their underinsured motorist coverage was what made the difference in helping them through a very challenging time and difficult recovery.

In addition to protecting you if you are injured by an at-fault driver while you’re driving or walking, UIM coverage can also protect you and your family members if you’re riding in a friend’s car or riding a bike and are injured by an at-fault, underinsured motorist.

We had another client family experience a serious collision caused by an underinsured driver that seriously injured their daughter. The daughter was attending college out of state when she was struck by an at-fault driver while riding a bike with a group of friends.

Her extensive injuries required multiple surgeries and she had to delay some of her studies. Having underinsured motorist coverage gave her family peace of mind and allowed them to fully concentrate on her recovery.

Claudia’s personal example

I’ve seen firsthand the costly and long-lasting consequences an underinsured driver can cause. My sister, Jill, was seriously injured nearly 10 years ago when a driver ran a red light and struck Jill on her motorcycle. She spent 3 months in the hospital recovering from life-threatening injuries, endured countless surgeries and couldn’t return to work for over a year.

Unfortunately, the driver only carried the California state minimum liability limits of $15,000 per person, which barely covered Jill’s first day in intensive care. She also faced significant loss of income, uncovered medical bills and copays, and the expense of retrofitting her home to accommodate her reduced mobility.

If UIM protection had been available on Jill’s umbrella policy at that time, it would have helped offset the staggering financial costs of her recovery.

Consider adding this important protection

Because of my sister’s experience, and the experience of many of our clients, I am especially committed to making sure our clients know about the importance of underinsured motorist protection. Now that we have it available on an umbrella policy with most of our companies, I encourage all our clients to add this to their protection package.

This important coverage is also very affordable. For example, with one of our companies, if you carry at least $500,000 of liability and underinsured motorist coverage on your auto policy, you can add UIM to your umbrella for just $90 a year.

To learn more about UIM or to add it to your policy, contact our team today. We look forward to helping you!

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