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Will my insurance cover my car if an uninsured motorist wrecks my car?

It depends on what type of coverage you have. The answer is yes if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or collision coverage.

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A single car insurance policy features several parts:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
  • Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP)
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist
  • Extras, such as roadside assistance

Every state except New Hampshire requires drivers to carry liability coverage to pay for damage and injuries they cause others, and even New Hampshire has financial responsibility laws requiring drivers to have enough assets to pay for damages if they cause an accident and don't have car insurance.

However, as you know, not everyone follows the law. The Insurance Research Council estimated that roughly one in six drivers – about 16 percent of the population -- were uninsured last year.

This is why it's prudent to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of your car insurance policy. This coverage kicks in if damages exceed the liability limits of an underinsured motorist who wrecks your car or if you're hit by someone without insurance.

If you didn't have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, collision coverage would pay for fixing your car. Collision coverage pays for damage to your car if you cause an accident or no one is determined to be at fault. You could make a claim under this coverage if the at-fault driver in an accident is uninsured.

The other portions of an auto insurance policy would not apply in this case. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by something other than an accident, such as theft, vandalism, natural disaster or collision with an animal. Medical payments coverage pays for medical expenses you and your passengers suffer in an accident. PIP, on the other hand, pays for medical expenses and lost wages for you and your passengers who are injured in an accident.

What if you don't have collision or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?

Then your only option would be to sue the other driver. Whether that driver would have enough assets to pay for your car, though, is an open question.

For more, see the benefits of uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.

Last updated: Feb. 27, 2011 Redesign Survey