As drivers, we often assume that one part of driving a vehicle is having valid insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone who is driving on our streets feels the same way. Uninsured motorists are people operating motor vehicles without insurance, or with insurance that has lapsed or been cancelled.
A North American Problem
The research and statistics show that this is an issue across North America. Throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, a percentage of drivers have no insurance (or no valid insurance). According to a senior Vice President at the Insurance Research Council (IRC), this situation, “….forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all.”
In terms of having insurance, the purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to provide financial protection for you as an insured driver if you get into an accident caused by an uninsured or even underinsured driver.
The United States
Car insurance is required to legally drive in 49 of the states within the United States. According to the Insurance Reserch Council, in 2012, 12.6% of U.S. drivers had no vehicle insurance. Why do so many people choose to drive without insurance?
- It’s too expensive
- Could not afford it during the economic downturn
- Some American states have very expensive insurance rates (e.g. Florida and New Jersey)
- Some drivers were insured, and chose to let the policy lapse, instead of paying it
The IRC estimates the states with the highest percentages of uninsured motorists are: Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Florida.
The rules for uninsured motorist coverage, varies from state to state. Some states require that you have this coverage, added to your policy (such as Maryland and West Virginia), in some states you must purchase it (unless you decline it in writing), such as California and Texas. And some states require that this coverage is offered, even if you don’t purchase it – including Colorado and Delaware.
Canada – a gap in the data
While doing the research, it became clear that there is not one good source for information on uninsured drivers in Canada. Because Canada has the 10 provinces, the data collected seems to be on a province by province basis. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador would like to have a better system of keeping track of uninsured drivers – noted in a Canadian Underwriter article from December 2017. This issue runs across all provinces.
What about British Columbia?
If we look specifically at B.C., here is what the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) suggests. They recommend that you make sure that YOU have appropriate insurance coverage, rather than rely on the insurance coverage of other people.
When you purchase car insurance through ICBC that is basic coverage. But you can top up this coverage with other items – such as Extension Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP). This increases the coverage that you have, if the other driver is uninsured, or does not have enough insurance coverage.
Benefits of Underinsured Motorist Protection
The UMP coverage can help cover things like:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
The coverage will cover you, the driver, but also any members of your household in the vehicle as well. Additional coverage is for you, or any members of your household that are injured as pedestrians or cyclists, or if any of you are injured in a vehicle, other than your own.
To make sure that you get ALL of the coverage listed above, you need to make sure that you have the UMP coverage for each vehicle in your household. You want to have all of your loved ones covered, in each vehicle you own.
ICBC suggests that you speak with your local Autoplan dealer. Getting the UMP coverage, can be that extra peace of mind – often for not that much extra expense.
When you go to purchase any kind of insurance, make sure that you weigh all the factors. The next time you are insuring a vehicle with ICBC, ask about the underinsured motorist protection. You can make the most informed decision for your vehicle, and for you and your family.
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Extension Underinsured Motorist Protection. http://www.icbc.com/autoplan/optional/Pages/underinsured-protection.aspx Copyright 2018.
NerdWallet, Inc. Understanding Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Insurance. July 20, 2017.https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/understanding-uninsured-motorist-property-damage-insurance/
Canadian Underwriter. Province looks for ways to keep track of uninsured drivers. December 18, 2017. https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/province-looks-ways-keep-track-uninsured-drivers-1004125273/
Buy Auto Insurance.com. Are You Safe on the Road?: the Benefits of Uninsured Motorist Coverage. 2013. http://www.buyautoinsurance.com/uninsured-motorists/