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Do I really need uninsured motorist insurance if I carry collision insurance for my vehicle?

Uninsured motorist (UM) is one of the most misunderstood types of car insurance coverage. Standard UM insurance doesn't cover damage to your car. Instead, it pays the medical expenses for you and your passengers if you're injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver, and in some states it pays out when you're injured by a hit-and-run driver.

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Underinsured motorist (UIM) kicks in if the driver at fault has liability coverage but not enough to pay all your medical bills.

You might be thinking of uninsured motorist property-damage coverage (UMPD), which pays to repair your car if an uninsured driver causes an accident. It's separate coverage from UM/UIM. Some states require you to purchase UM/UIM and UMPD, while others make the coverages optional. Also, some states require insurance companies to offer coverage but let you reject it by signing a statement. In some other states, UMPD isn't even available.

UMPD kicks in only if the uninsured driver is at fault for the accident; it doesn't pay out if you cause the accident. You don't need the coverage if you have collision insurance, which covers damage to your vehicle from a traffic accident, whether you're at fault or you're struck by an uninsured motorist. However, remember that you must pay a deductible for collision coverage. UMPD has no deductible.

For more, see How to buy uninsured motorist property-damage coverage.

Last updated: Jun. 28, 2012 Redesign Survey