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Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Michigan: Do You Need It?

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Pat Roache
· 6 min read
Michigan insurance laws do not require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. However, it’s highly recommended due to Michigan’s high rate of uninsured drivers—especially in urban areas where as many as half the drivers (if not more) don’t carry sufficient Michigan insurance coverage.
  • Michigan car insurance laws
    don't require uninsured motorist coverage, but high minimums and a high percentage of uninsured drivers make it an important consideration for drivers.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage
    can protect against accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers, covering medical expenses that are not protected by PIP and liability insurance.
  • Because of Michigan's no-fault system and the high percentage of uninsured drivers, uninsured motorist coverage is critical for protecting against high upfront expenses and hit-and-run incidents.

Do you need uninsured motorist coverage in Michigan?

You don’t need uninsured motorist coverage under Michigan law—but you should seriously consider it.
The most recent data from the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
estimates that 25.5% of Michigan drivers are uninsured, making it second only to
Mississippi
for the most uninsured drivers in the country. A quarter of Michigan’s driving population is nearly two million drivers—just think about how many drivers you pass on the road in a single day. 
That leaves you with a one in four chance of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver. But here’s the catch: uninsured motorist coverage can help you out even if the other driver has insurance. Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage kicks in to cover any remaining medical expenses after your own
personal injury protection (PIP)
and the other driver’s
liability insurance
have been taken into account.
One perk of adding uninsured motorist coverage to your policy is that it’s relatively cheap. The national average cost for a good amount of UM coverage is $75 to $150 per year, though these averages are likely to be higher in Michigan due to the number of uninsured drivers. Still, the relatively low cost of UM coverage could easily outweigh the risk of an accident without it.

How uninsured motorist insurance works in Michigan

Uninsured motorist insurance in Michigan covers any remaining costs for pain and suffering after your personal injury protection (PIP) and an at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage—or lack thereof—has been taken into account.
Michigan’s minimum auto insurance requirements are some of the highest in the country and include the following:
As far as UM/UIM coverage is concerned, the types of coverage we want to focus on are personal injury protection (PIP) and bodily injury liability
Michigan is a
no-fault state
, meaning you go through your insurance for medical expenses after an accident no matter who’s at fault. Your personal injury protection will cover your medical expenses up to the amount you have on your policy—which could amount to $0 if you have a qualifying
health insurance policy that covers car accidents
.
Any medical expenses remaining after your PIP has been applied should be covered by the bodily injury liability insurance of the other driver—if they actually meet Michigan’s insurance requirements. If not, your UM/UIM coverage would step in to pay out any remaining medical expenses covered by your limits. 
Key takeaway: UM/UIM coverage pays for any remaining medical expenses not covered by your personal injury protection (PIP) and the other driver’s liability insurance—or lack thereof.

What’s available

There are two distinctions between UM/UIM coverage available in Michigan:
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UM/UMBI): pays covered medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident with an uninsured driver.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UIM/UIMBI): pays covered medical expenses after an accident where the other driver carries insufficient coverage—typically not exceeding the minimum requirements.
Note that neither UM nor UIM coverage covers property damage, meaning they won’t pay for damage to your vehicle.
While neither UMBI nor UIMBI is required on your Michigan car insurance policy by law, insurance companies are required to offer both in amounts equal to your selected bodily injury liability coverage. If you choose to carry less UMBI/UIMBI than you carry for bodily injury, or you decline the coverage altogether, you’ll be required to complete an “opt-out” form for your provider.

What it covers

UM/UIM bodily injury coverage in Michigan covers expenses for pain and suffering associated with injuries sustained in a car accident with a driver lacking proper coverage.
“Pain and suffering” is a bit broad, but this generally includes excess wage loss and excess medical expenses left after your no-fault PIP has been applied for you and your passengers. UM/UIM pain and suffering coverage can also include, but is not limited to:
  • Rehabilitation and nursing expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Home medical equipment, such as a wheelchair
  • Home modifications necessary to accommodate injury or rehabilitation
  • Services that you would otherwise be able to complete on your own

How to make a claim 

It’s important to collect as much information as possible
after a car accident
, including:
  • The other driver’s insurance information, and
  • Photos, notes, witness accounts, and other information pertaining to the circumstances and results of the accident.
If you or your passenger have sustained physical injuries and the other driver involved in an accident doesn’t carry sufficient bodily injury liability insurance, it’s time to file a UM/UIM claim.
You’ll file a UM/UIM claim just like you would file any car accident claim—by calling your insurance company. In addition to explaining the circumstances of the accident, you’ll also need to be able to prove the following:
  • The other driver involved was legally at fault for the injuries
  • The other driver does not carry the proper insurance 
If the other driver does carry bodily injury insurance but it's not enough to cover you or your passenger’s injury expenses, you’ll need to prove that the other party’s liability insurance was applied to your costs to the fullest extent and it was still not enough.
The more documentation you can supply, the better, including medical bills, insurance claim results, police reports, and more. If your claim is approved, then your UM/UIM insurance will cover the remaining expenses up to your predetermined limit. After that, you’ll need to cover any remaining expenses by other means.

Why it’s a good idea to buy uninsured motorist insurance in Michigan

Uninsured motorist coverage may seem like just another thing to pay for considering Michigan is already one of
the most expensive states for insurance
. But this is exactly why uninsured motorist coverage in Michigan is so important! After all, many of Michigan’s drivers choose to neglect the legal requirements because they’re so expensive.

More than one in four Michigan drivers is uninsured

Michigan has the second largest percentage of uninsured drivers in the country, second only to Mississippi. These populations are even more concentrated in major cities like
Detroit
and
Flint
You may wonder why you should buy additional coverage to account for drivers who don’t follow the law but remember: UM coverage is about protecting your upfront expenses.
Resolving an accident with an uninsured driver can take a long time, and you’ll still have bills to pay in the meantime. UM/UIM coverage is the only way to protect yourself from high upfront expenses associated with an accident involving any of the one-in-four uninsured drivers on Michigan’s roads.

Hit-and-runs make up roughly 10% of car accidents in Michigan

UM/UIM coverage is also instrumental when you’re the victim of
a hit-and-run
Hit-and-runs where the responsible driver fled the scene of the accident made up more than 10% of Michigan car accidents in 2018 alone. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you won’t be able to get insurance information from the responsible driver to cover the hit-and-run damages.
Uninsured motorist coverage can help cover the bodily injury expenses of a Michigan hit-and-run. Personal injury protection also covers these costs but may not be enough on its own, depending on your coverage limit.
“I was struggling to find an affordable deal in Detroit, MI because insurance here is so expensive. I definitely could not have found a better deal without
Jerry
!” —Marlin M.
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