Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is an important aspect of auto insurance policies, designed to protect policyholders in case of accidents involving drivers who do not carry enough insurance to cover the damages.

“UIM” coverage is not to be confused with “UM” or UNINSURED motorist coverage.  In Missouri, Uninsured "UM" coverage is mandatory in every automobile insurance policy, and it covers you in the event that the other driver who causes a crash does not have insurance coverage.  Again, this type of coverage must be in every Missouri auto insurance policy.

This article is NOT about mandatory Uninsured (UM) coverage. 

This article is about optional Underinsured (UIM) coverage.  Again, this type of coverage is optional in Missouri.   

Because underinsured coverage is optional in Missouri, the limitations in the policy are generally enforceable. This includes set-off provisions in Missouri policies, which allow insurance companies to reduce the amount they owe to a policyholder under the UIM coverage by the amount of insurance that you received from the at-fault driver's policy. This means that if you are involved in an accident with an underinsured driver and you have UIM coverage, your insurance company could reduce the amount they pay you by the amount received from the at-fault driver's insurance.

It is important to note that UIM coverage does not generally kick in until the at-fault driver’s insurance company offers their policy limits.

It is also important to understand that the policy definition of who is an underinsured driver can be very important, too.  Some policies define an “underinsured motorist” as someone whose liability limits are less than your underinsured motorist limits. For example, if you have $100,000 of underinsured motorist coverage and the other driver has $100,000 of liability coverage, then a policy that defines an underinsured motorist as someone who has less coverage than you do results in there being no underinsured motorist coverage in that situation.

Set-off provisions in Missouri policies can be difficult to understand.  Some people are quite confused when they buy what they think is $100,000 of underinsured motorist coverage, but learn that their insurance company only has to pay them $50,000, since the at-fault driver had $50,0000 in coverage. 

If you are seriously injured in a crash, it is very important for you to contact an experience personal injury attorney who can evaluate all of your insurance policies to see what benefits might apply to help you fill in the gaps if the at-fault driver doesn’t carry enough insurance. If you want help reviewing all of your insurance coverages, feel free to give Jill Bollwerk a  call, and she can help.  

Jill S. Bollwerk
Helping St. Louis area residents with personal injury, workers' compensation & insurance appeals/disputes.
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