Uninsured motorist coverage: Basic facts for Missouri drivers
Under the terms of Missouri law, all drivers are required to carry some kind of liability insurance coverage - in fact, you can't license a vehicle or renew your plates unless you can show proof of insurance. The state minimum requirements are as follows:
However, here's a sobering fact: despite the requirements of state law, approximately 14% of Missouri drivers don't have auto insurance. This is especially bad news for those motorists who are unlucky enough to be involved in collisions with these drivers. The Office of the State Auditor of Missouri reports that uninsured motorists cost insured drivers an estimated $90 million dollars annually.
For this reason, Missouri drivers are also required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, with a minimum limit of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury. Policy holders can add increased uninsured motorist coverage, which provides additional protection.
Who is an uninsured motorist?
• A motorist with no insurance
• A hit and run driver, or a driver who is otherwise unidentifiable
Note: If a motorist has auto insurance coverage, but the policy does not provide sufficient funding to cover your losses and damages, he or she is considered an underinsured motorist. Damages exceeding the underinsured driver's coverage limits can be paid by your own underinsured motorist coverage, but there is no statutory requirement that compels Missouri drivers to carry this insurance.
Why do I need uninsured motorist coverage in Missouri?
Many drivers don't understand why they are required to have this kind of insurance, and how it works to protect them. Uninsured motorist coverage can cover your wage loss, medical care, and property damage if you are injured by a driver who either doesn't have insurance, or by a hit and run driver who cannot be identified.
When does my uninsured motorist coverage kick in?
Missouri courts have established the following criteria for drivers who wish to file uninsured motorist claims against their own insurance companies:
(1) the insured incurred bodily injuries; (2) the injuries occurred as a result of an accident with an underinsured motorist; (3) the insured is "legally entitled" to collect from the owner of the underinsured vehicle; and (4) the limits of all applicable policies [are] exhausted by payment or settlement. [State ex rel. Shelton v. Mummert, 879 S.W.2d 525, 528 (Mo. banc 1994)]