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The Importance of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Michigan

Investing in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will help to protect yourself and your family. It lowers the chance of financial catastrophe in the event the at-fault driver has failed to either purchase insurance or has purchased liability insurance at an inadequate level.

Michigan’s auto insurance law requires drivers/owners of motor vehicles operated on Michigan streets/roads to carry three types of coverage: Personal injury protection (PIP) for medical expenses/work loss, property protection, and residual bodily injury and property damage liability. While these coverages are mandatory, you should also consider purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage. You may already have this coverage, but if you are not sure, it is recommended that you contact your insurance agent and discuss these coverages.

Why is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance a Good Idea?

Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that there are uninsured drivers everywhere. When individuals or families struggle financially, auto insurance may be one of the bills they can’t afford to pay. They think or hope they can get away without it by avoiding getting pulled over or being involved in a crash.

The Insurance Research Council (IRC) found one in eight U.S. drivers were uninsured in 2019. The rate of uninsured drivers varies significantly from one state to the next. For example, while 3.1% of New Jersey drivers were uninsured, 29.4% of Mississippi drivers lacked auto insurance.

Michigan’s rate of uninsured drivers fell 10.1 percentage points between 2015 and ’19, according to the IRC. Yet, 25.5% of Michigan drivers were still uninsured in 2019.

Michigan changed its auto insurance laws, and the new requirements went into effect July 1, 2020. However, we don’t know yet whether those changes, especially the opportunity to pay reduced premiums, will lower the rate of uninsured drivers.

Uninsured motorist coverage is helpful if one of the many uninsured drivers causes a crash and you or a family member is injured or worse. Uninsured motorist insurance helps you when the other driver failed to do what the law requires: purchase automobile insurance coverage. The purchase of underinsured motorist coverage is important to consider as well.

What is the Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage provides you and your family protection when an at-fault driver causes injury or death, but has purchased an inadequate level of liability coverage. At present, an owner of a vehicle need purchase only $100,000 of liability coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage will make up the difference between what the at-fault driver’s insurance provides and the measure of your or your family member’s damages. In other words, underinsured motorist coverage covers the “gap” between the available coverage from the at-fault driver and your damages. Note: You must purchase underinsured motorist coverage at a level in excess of $100,000 or the coverage becomes “illusory” because if the at-fault driver is insured he/she must have had at least $100,000 of liability insurance. Thus, if you purchase only $100,000 of underinsured motorist coverage, there will be no “gap.” You will end up paying a premium when there is no real coverage.

Does Michigan Require Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

As stated above, Michigan does not require drivers to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. It’s entirely optional. It’s simply another way to protect yourself, given its relatively inexpensive premium for the coverage; it is a recommended optional coverage.

When Does Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Apply to a Crash?

To use uninsured motorist insurance, you’ll have to show:

  • You were not more at fault in causing the accident than the other driver, and
  • The at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance, or
  • You were a victim of a hit and run.

To use your underinsured motorist insurance, you’ll have to show:

  • You were not more at fault in causing the accident than the other driver, and
  • You or your family member recovers the maximum benefits possible under the at-fault driver’s policy, and
  • The at-fault driver’s insurance policy is inadequate to compensate for your or your family’s damages.

In either case, you’ll have to give your uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance provider reasonable notice of your claim. How long you have to tell the company depends on your policy’s language. Do not wait, or delay. Good advice – contact an attorney that specializes in no-fault automobile insurance law soon after your or your family member’s accident.

When Can an Insurer Deny an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim?

Uninsured/underinsured coverage replaces the other driver’s liability insurance, or lack thereof. If you were the primary cause of the crash, then this type of policy will not cover your or your family’s claim of injury or death.

Should I Buy Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Michigan?

If your budget allows for additional auto insurance coverage, then yes. It’s a smart idea to invest in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to protect yourself and your family. It helps to avoid financial catastrophe in the event the at-fault driver has failed to either purchase insurance or has purchased liability insurance at an inadequate level.

If you have any questions, please contact Gary, Emily, or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney. Fraser Trebilcock lawyers have expertise in insurance law and would be happy to  consult with you or a family member at no cost.

Fraser Trebilcock Shareholder Gary C. Rogers has firsthand experience with car/deer accidents, having been involved in four himself; Gary is recognized as one of the top civil defense attorneys in the area of automobile related cases, and he has co-written Michigan No-Fault Law-The Insurers’ Perspective, a handbook for handling claims under Michigan’s No-Fault Automobile legislation. Gary can be reached at or (517) 377-0828.

Emily M. Vanderlaan is a litigation associate at Fraser Trebilcock serving some of the largest and most sophisticated insurers in Michigan. From case evaluation, to settlement negotiations, to trial and appeal work, Emily has experience representing insurance companies in a wide range of cases in Michigan state courts. You can reach her at (517) 377.0882 or at