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How to Choose Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Limits in Maine

January 26th, 2014     Noyes Hall & Allen

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Almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to have car insurance. Like every other law on the books, there are always some people who choose to ignore or disobey it. The good news: if you are in an accident that’s another Maine driver’s fault, it’s very likely that they have insurance. Maine is among the Top 10 states for percentage of insured drivers.

What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance to Pay My Damages?

It’s great if the at-fault driver has insurance, but do they have enough insurance to pay your damages? Who knows. At 50/100/25, Maine’s minimum auto liability insurance limits are among the highest in the country. If you drive a late-model car, or are seriously injured, that still won’t be enough, even though it’s much higher than most states mandate.

What Happens if Someone Hits Me and They Don’t Have Insurance?

If an uninsured driver hits you, you have to rely on your own Maine auto insurance. Your collision coverage (if you purchased that option) will pay to repair your vehicle. If you don’t carry collision insurance, you’ll have to deal with the damages on your own. Some other states offer “uninsured motorist physical damage” coverage. Maine does not.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

In Maine, Uninsured Motorist coverage is bodily injury coverage only. It protects you and the people in your vehicle by acting as if the person who hit you had the same liability limits you have. UM limits always match your policy’s liability limits. That’s another reason we say don’t cheap out when you choose your liability insurance limit.

Let’s say you’re driving in Portland, Maine, and someone runs a red light and broadsides you. Your daughter, who was a passenger, is hospitalized with broken bones and internal injuries. You were driving, and not injured as badly. You take an ambulance ride to the hospital, and are released with minor injuries. Your daughter’s medical expenses are $75,000, and yours are $2,500. If you have Uninsured Motorist coverage with Maine state minimum liability limits of $50/$100,  Your daughter has $25,000 of uncovered medical bills ($75,000 – $50,000). If you had chosen a $300,000 combined single limit, all medical expenses would have been covered 100%.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage is actually part of the same policy provision as Uninsured Motorist. Its technical name is Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Underinsured motorist applies when someone has insurance, but not enough to pay for your injuries. Like Uninsured Motorist coverage, it pretends that the person who hit you had the same limits as you do.

Let’s assume the same accident scenario as above, except the at-fault driver did have insurance with Maine minimum limits of $50/$100. Their insurance wouldn’t be sufficient to pay for your daughter’s medical bills. You might look to your Underinsured Motorist coverage for help.

If you also had $50/$100 limits, you would be out of luck, because you didn’t have any more insurance than the person who hit you did. But, if you had chosen a $300,000 combined single limit, your Underinsured Motorist coverage would pay medical costs up to $250,000 per person and $200,000 per accident (the difference between your insurance limit and theirs).

Danger: Uninsured Drivers in Vacationland

Although Maine drivers are among the most likely to be insured, don’t forget that Maine’s largest industry is tourism. That means that visitors from other states are constantly driving around us. They’re in unfamiliar territory, and often distracted by Maine’s natural beauty. Maybe they’re trying to follow GPS directions. Perfect scenario for an accident, right? If the person who hits you is from Mississippi, there’s almost a 25% chance that they have no insurance. So, pay attention to your Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage limit.

What Liability and Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Limit Should You Choose?

Everyone’s situation is unique. We recommend discussing your situation with a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent. If you live in Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541 for a custom review of your insurance and your options. We represent most of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, and can help you choose the one that best meets your needs.

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