Pennsylvania  law requires auto owners to buy auto insurance.  The compulsory limit of coverage for Bodily Injury Liability is $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident and Property Damage Liability $5,000.  These compulsory minimum limits are among the lowest in the nation.

However, not everyone obeys the law.  A recent study suggests the recession has caused an increase in uninsured motorists, those having no auto insurance.  This study puts Pennsylvania at 7% uninsured.

There is a  mistaken view that the Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage that you buy on your auto insurance policy will pay benefits to the uninsured or underinsured driver.  No!  You are buying coverage to protect yourself and the occupants of your car if injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.  Also these coverages will protect you as a pedestrian or bicycle rider if injured by an at fault auto driver.

If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist in Pennsylvania your auto insurance policy’s First Party Benefits will pay your medical and loss of income expenses.  Damage to your car will be covered by your Collision coverage subject to your deductible.  However if you are severely injured, paralysed for example, Uninsured Motorist coverage will help to compensate for your loss.

Another point to consider is that while the majority of drivers may comply with the law, many may have purchased liability insurance limits that are insufficient to cover the injuries inflicted on you and are thus termed underinsured motorists.

Your Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist limits can be equal to your Bodily Injury Liability coverage.   For example if you have a common limit of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for Bodily Injury Liability your limit for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist can also be $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

Some people choose to reduce their Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist limits to save money on their insurance premium.  My response is – “Why are you willing to provide more insurance coverage for others than for yourself? ”

Another aspect to Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist called “stacking” will be discussed in a future post.  Until then  find your auto insurance policy to see how much of these important coverages called Uninsured  Motorist and Underinsured Motorist you have purchased.