How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?

How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Jun 28, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

As a no-fault car insurance state, New York requires its drivers to carry certain minimum coverages and types of insurance, which must be purchased to satisfy statewide financial responsibility requirements. Without them, you cannot drive legally, let alone register a car or obtain license plates for your vehicle(s).

In addition to personal injury protection (i.e., no-fault and liability insurances), all legal New York drivers must have uninsured motorist coverage to cover an uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI). This unique type of insurance plays a key role in ensuring that you are insured, even if another at-fault driver is uninsured.

But how much uninsured motorist coverage do you really need? To answer this question, we must first address several smaller questions. That said, for more information or a free evaluation of your auto accident case, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999.

What Is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

Uninsured motorist coverage (or UM) is another very important type of financial protection for New York drivers, as it insures them up to a certain coverage limit for damages caused by uninsured and/or underinsured drivers.

Uninsured motorist coverage is similar to underinsured motorist collision insurance (UIM). Still, they are not the same in terms of where bodily injury liability lies after an insurance claim is filed.

For example, say that you are driving on a New York roadway and are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Before you can get that driver’s insurance information or call the authorities, they drive away. As the victim of a hit-and-run incident, you would be eligible here for collision coverage through UIM insurance.

Provided you have uninsured motorist coverage and liability coverage, however, you would also be covered for additional damages stemming from the accident up to the policy’s maximum. This is because uninsured motorist coverage foots the bill for economic or physical damages in addition to your PIP or personal injury protection benefits.

Uninsured motorist coverage also protects you from drivers who break the law by not being insured whatsoever. In other cases, uninsured motorist protection can be beneficial if your damages are more expensive than what’s covered by your PIP policy or an at-fault driver’s third-party policy.

How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works

Specifically, this type of coverage — uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage — accounts for any bodily injuries that result from car accidents in New York State. This is true regardless of whether you, the policyholder, are in a car at the time of an accident or are a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle.

The basic type of UM covers economic losses only, including medical bills, lost wages from missing time at work, and a few ancillary losses. In addition, UM may cover serious injuries sustained due to an auto accident that would otherwise need to be covered by health insurance or paid out of pocket.

According to New York state law, serious injuries that incur medical costs include:

  • Dismemberment
  • Fractures
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Permanent loss of use of a limb or organ
  • Loss of a fetus
  • A serious injury that impairs your ability to perform daily tasks for 90 days or more
  • Death and funeral expenses

Under these circumstances, your basic UM coverage should pay for those non-economic losses within policy limits. These include:

  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Other, potentially hard-to-quantify losses

In addition to bodily injuries, uninsured motorist coverage extends to vehicle and/or property damages when the at-fault driver has insufficient or no insurance. Note that in the event that your UM coverage applies to economic but not bodily damages, you may have to pay a deductible first.

Some drivers may also benefit from uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD), which increases the insurance limits of your auto insurance policy to account for damage to your car.

To learn more now, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers directly either by phone (1-800-966-4999) or online. Remember: Not only will your consultation be free, but the advice offered to you will allow you to make the right choice for your situation in order to best protect your financial future.

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Legally Required in New York?

Yes. Under New York State law, every legal driver must purchase at least $25,000 worth of uninsured motorist coverage. Thus, this is the minimum coverage included with every car insurance plan in New York. If you have “standard” motorist coverage limits from your provider, then you can rest assured that this includes UM coverage.

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), on the other hand, is optional. Nevertheless, it can still prove beneficial in circumstances involving an accident with an underinsured driver.

How Much Coverage Is Necessary?

According to the law, you must carry $25,000 of UM coverage at a minimum. However, some drivers wonder whether this is enough to pay for anticipated losses and/or medical bills.

Remember: UM coverage is added to the other forms of insurance already protecting you in the event of an accident. For instance, if you suffer $100,000 in injuries, your coverage could protect you in the following ways:

  • First, your PIP coverage kicks in. This is $25,000 minimum, but you can have up to more. We’ll proceed assuming you have the $25,000 minimum.
  • You also receive $25,000 for your injuries via the other driver’s bodily injury coverage.
  • If the at-fault driver/other driver was uninsured or underinsured, your UM coverage would also kick in and cover another $25,000.
  • While these policies would not fully cover the cost of your medical bills, they would take care of most of it. The rest might be recoverable via a lawsuit or through other insurance policies.

UM vs. SUM Coverage

New York drivers also have the option to purchase supplementary motorist insurance coverage (SUM). Car insurers in New York offer policies worth up to $400,000 of coverage. Supplementary underinsured motorist coverage can protect you even more from at-fault drivers who aren’t properly insured or protected, and who thus may be unable to pay for damages they cause even if your lawsuit is successful.

For many drivers, SUM coverage is a wise idea. That said, SUM coverage does typically raise car insurance premiums to some extent.

To learn more about UM and SUM coverage, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-800-966-4999 and speak with one of our highly skilled auto insurance attorneys today!

UM or UIM Coverage: Which is Better?

In truth, neither uninsured nor underinsured motorist coverage is better than the other. However, unlike underinsured motorist coverage, you are legally required to carry uninsured motorist coverage in NYS.

If your insurance provider offers a joint package plan that includes both UM and UIM insurance coverage, it may be a good idea to get it. That way, you’ll be protected even if you are involved in an accident with an underinsured driver (as opposed to a hit-and-run driver, or a driver without any insurance whatsoever).

How To File an Uninsured Motorist Claim

If you need to file an uninsured motorist claim, it’s highly recommended that you contact knowledgeable auto accident attorneys for legal advice and help with your insurance quote. And while it’s possible to file a UM claim without a lawyer, doing so carries the risk of you not receiving maximum compensation. To prevent this from happening, an experienced auto accident lawyers can:

  • Help you determine whether you have sufficient grounds for an uninsured motorist claim to help you cover medical payments
  • Help you determine which parties, if any, are most liable for fault in an auto accident
  • Assist in recovering monetary compensation for any injuries sustained and/or property that was damaged or destroyed as a result of your auto accident
  • Gather evidence on your behalf
  • Fight for you both in and out of court
  • Counsel you so you know how to best present yourself in court
  • Provide other legal advice as necessary

That said, if you or a loved one is involved in a hit-and-run accident or an auto accident with an uninsured driver, you should not worry about legal representation right away. Instead:

  • Immediately contact medical authorities. Emergency services can meet you at the scene of the accident and examine you and anyone else involved for injuries. Note: As some injuries can remain hidden at first, you should get examined even if you think you aren’t injured.
  • If it is safe to do so, get yourself and anyone else out of harm’s way (e.g., moving your car out of the road).
  • Only after being examined by medical professionals should you then contact a legal representative.

No matter your situation, the right auto accident lawyers can help your uninsured motorist claim succeed. Even if there is no at-fault party to bring to court, as is commonly the case with hit-and-run accidents, an experienced auto attorney will know what it takes to recover the money and benefits you are legally entitled to.

Auto accident lawyers such as Schwartzapfel Lawyers can speak with insurance companies on your behalf to make sure your claim is not denied. Additionally, we can maximize your insurance payout and, if necessary, assist the court and/or other legal organizations in locating uninsured driver(s).

For more information and a free case evaluation, contact us at 1-800-966-4999. But you shouldn’t wait, as your window to take action and protect your financial future may soon close forever. Instead, act now and allow Schwartzapfel Lawyers the honor and privilege of fighting for you!

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

To drive legally in the state of New York, you are required to carry at least $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. Note: Standard insurance policies include UM by default, so you don’t need to seek out this insurance plan specifically. You may, however, also wish to acquire underinsured motorist coverage or increase your UM coverage for further financial protection.

Moreover, if your uninsured motorist coverage isn’t enough to pay for damages and/or medical expenses, Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help. As New York City auto accident attorneys, we can help you determine whether you have grounds for an auto accident lawsuit, even though New York is a no-fault state. And if your case goes to trial, we’ll fight for you without rest and handle your recovery with the utmost respect and commitment.

For more information on insurance coverage and how it can affect your grounds for a lawsuit, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999.


Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? | Forbes Advisor

5 Things to Know About New York’s Serious Injury Threshold | New York State Bar

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements | Department of Financial Services

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