UM Insurance: What Is It And How Does It Protect You?

Grady Flattmann
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Local Covington, Louisiana attorney focusing 100% on personal injury matters.

(This 5-minute read may save you $$$$$$$$)

When talking about car insurance, you may have heard of “UM” coverage.  In my experience, having handled hundreds of personal injury cases through the years, UM insurance is extremely important.  I’ve seen clients benefit significantly by having UM coverage, and I’ve also seen the other extreme…when a client has life-altering injuries but no insurance coverage (including UM) to help cover their losses.  

What Is “UM” Coverage?

“UM” is short for “uninsured motorist” coverage.  It is an optional coverage on your car insurance and having it is not mandatory in Louisiana.  UM coverage does increase the cost of your auto insurance, but just hear me out...  the small cost of having UM is well worth it. 

How Does “UM” Work?

If you are in an accident caused by an uninsured driver and sustain injuries, there will be ZERO insurance to cover you, UNLESS you have UM coverage under your own auto policy.  If you have UM coverage, it acts just like if the at-fault driver had insurance, and provides coverage for your damages, including medical bills, personal injuries, lost wages, etc.

The benefits of having UM coverage don’t stop there.  Not only does UM kick in with an “uninsured motorist,” but it also can be used if you are in an accident with an “underinsured” driver.  That means if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover your injuries, your UM provides additional coverage. 

For example, just a few years ago, I represented a young lady who suffered horrible neck and back injuries requiring surgery.  Her life was forever changed.  The person who caused the car wreck only had the state minimum ($15,000) of liability insurance.  Luckily, my client had UM insurance, but only $15,000 worth of it.  In that case, the value of my client’s case may have been $1,000,000, but there was only $30,000 in insurance coverage to compensate her.  What a shame! 

Why Is “UM” So Important?

Next time you are driving, look around and imagine that 50% of the drivers around you either don’t have insurance or have the bare minimum.  That’s scary, isn’t it? 

In 2019, 12.6% of motorists in the U.S. were uninsured, according to a study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC).  For once, Louisiana wasn’t first on the list (we ranked 26th at 11.7% of drivers).  HOWEVER, some of our neighboring states were the worst offenders (Mississippi #1 at 29.4%, Alabama #7 at 19.5%, and Arkansas #8 at 19.3%).  How many Mississippi license plates do you see on a daily basis? 

How Much “UM” Insurance Should I Have?

When purchasing insurance, not only can you choose the types of coverage you can buy, but you can also choose the amount of coverage that best suites you.  For instance, if you purchase UM coverage, the minimum you could purchase in Louisiana is $15,000 of coverage (per person up to $30,000 per accident).  BUT, you can always choose to purchase more coverage, such as $25,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000.  Once you reach that mark, if you want more UM coverage, it will typically require you to have an umbrella policy. 

One rule to remember when purchasing UM insurance is that you cannot have more UM coverage than you have general liability (at fault) coverage.  For example, if you want $50,000 in UM coverage, you must also increase your liability coverage to $50,000. 

Caution!  Beware of UM “Economic Only”:

When purchasing UM insurance, it is important to know the difference between regular UM and UMEO insurance.  UMEO stands for “Uninsured Motorist-Economic Only.”  The difference is that UMEO only covers out of pocket expenses and lost wages.  UMEO DOES NOT cover general damages, which are typically the most significant part of an insurance claim.  UMEO may be cheaper than UM insurance, but they are not the same!

Are There Any Other Types Of Optional Coverage I Should Consider?

Besides UM, there are a few other types of optional coverage you should consider. 

  • Collision insurance provides coverage for damage to your vehicle, regardless of who is liable for causing an accident.  Using your own collision insurance to fix your car after an accident is sometimes the fastest way to get things going.  If the other party is at fault for the accident, your insurance company will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault insurance company and will also attempt to collect your deductible (if any) for you. 
  • Comprehensive coverage protects you against damage to your vehicle caused by non-collision events, such as theft, vandalism, weather events, etc.  Comprehensive coverage is what you use when a rock brakes your windshield.  
  • Rental insurance provides a rental car or reimburses you for rental expenses following an accident.  While the other driver’s insurance company is required to pay rental expenses after a wreck, getting them to do so is sometimes a slow process.  Having your own rental insurance can eliminate some of the headaches.
  • Medical Payment coverage (or “med-pay”) covers your out-of-pocket medical expenses, which arise as a result of a wreck.  Typically, med-pay has limits of $1,000 or $5,000.  If your insurance company makes med-pay payments to you, they will seek reimbursement from the at-fault insurance company. 

What’s The Bottom Line On UM Insurance?

Protect your family today and don’t delay any longer!  Put aside a few minutes and pull out the declaration’s page of your auto insurance policy and check out what coverages you have and the amounts of coverage.  Do you have UM, and if so, do you have enough of it?  Call your insurance agent and make an appointment with them to make sure you are protected. 

Now answer this question:  Do you really have “full coverage”? 

Have You Been In An Accident And Don't Know If You Are Fully Covered?

Have you been injured in an accident and don't know if you are fully covered contact us online or call our Covington office directly at 985.590.6182 to schedule your free consultation today. Flattmann Law serves clients on the Northshore, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom, Hammond, Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell.