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Updated:

November 10, 2022

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What Is Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) Coverage and Why Do I Need It in Texas?

uninsured motorist coverage

These days, with almost everything costing more, it is understandable that people are looking for ways to save money and cut unnecessary spending. And it’s also understandable that “extra” insurance coverage - beyond what is required by law in Texas - may seem unnecessary. This blog post will explore the truth about uninsured motorist coverage and supplemental underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage in Texas - and if you need it.

Brooks & Radchenko handles car accident injury claims in the Dallas and DFW metroplex area. If you or a loved one have been injured in a Texas car accident, contact our Dallas auto accident lawyers for a free consultation.

What Is Supplemental Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

What is uninsured motorist coverage and what is UIM coverage? Before we dive too deep, let’s review some terms you may not be familiar with. Ideally, you should understand what these are before you are ever in an accident:

  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): This type of insurance coverage pays if you’re injured by someone that doesn’t have insurance coverage, or can’t be identified (such as a hit-and-run driver).
  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): This pays if you’re injured by someone that doesn’t have enough coverage.
  • Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Coverage (SUM): This is UM/UIM insurance offered as a supplement to your policy rather than in the policy. It functions the same as UM/UIM coverage.

How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cost?

Underinsured coverage will increase your annual auto insurance premium cost slightly, but not by much. Check with your insurance company, as each company offers its own rates. UM/UIM coverage is generally very affordable - and may be as little as $50-$75 per year.

Rather than think about whether you can afford UM/UIM coverage, consider if you can afford not to have it. Not having UM/UIM leaves you in the position where you could be responsible for your medical expenses even if you are hurt in a crash that was 100% NOT your fault, or if you were injured by a hit-and-run driver, or by someone driving a stolen vehicle.

What Does UM/UIM Cover?

What does uninsured motorists insurance cover? Uninsured/Underinsured motorist insurance coverage provides compensation when needed for:

  • Your injuries;
  • Your passengers’ injuries;
  • Damage to your vehicle.

State-mandated liability coverage often does not cover medical bills from an accident - or damage to your vehicle. Additionally, according to the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated 8% of motorists on the road in Texas do not have insurance. UM/UIM insurance protects you in three scenarios:

  • (1) A driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to “make you whole”.
  • (2) A driver doesn’t have any insurance - a violation of Texas Transportation Code § 601.191.

  • (3) A driver cannot be located (hit and run accident).

The first scenario is common - drivers get the bare minimum coverage required by law. Texas insurance policy minimums are 30/60/25, which means that in Texas, you must have $30,000 of coverage bodily injury coverage, up to $60,000 per accident, along with $25,000 in property damage coverage. It is common for medical bills from an accident to exceed $30,000. Also, consider how many people drive vehicles that are worth far more than $25,000. If you have a truck worth $40,000 that is totaled in an accident and don’t have UM/UIM coverage, you would only be compensated to the limit of the other driver’s policy.

Why Is SUM Coverage So Important?

When you are on the road driving, or even walking as a pedestrian, you have no control over who you share the road with. Unfortunately, there are people who choose to break the law and drive without insurance. And even more concerning, insurance coverage required by Texas state law is often grossly inadequate to cover medical bills and damage to vehicles. If those individuals drive unsafely and you are injured in a crash, you may be vulnerable to not just physical injury, but also financial hardship.

Of course, you have the option of suing someone if you can prove that they caused financial damages, and their insurance coverage falls short. But this rarely works, and should never be counted on. Most people are heavily in debt or mortgaged and can establish that they are effectively “broke” - if sued. SUM coverage is important because it is insurance coverage that is for YOU, your passengers, and your vehicle. While other types of coverage - bodily injury and property damage - are required, that coverage compensates other people if you injure them.

Consider an example: You are in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. You are hospitalized and have $100,000 in medical bills, but the driver that hit you only had $30,000 in coverage, the driver would compensate you $30,000 (limits of their policy) and your UIM coverage would cover the other $70,000 so your medical bills could be fully paid. Your UIM coverage would also permit compensation for your lost earnings while you are unable to work, as well as your pain and suffering.

What Does Texas Law Say About Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

what is uninsured motorist coverage

In most states, uninsured motorist coverage or supplementary uninsured motorist includes bodily injury and property damage coverage for you, when the other driver’s coverage either isn’t available or isn’t enough. Some states, like Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, and Oregon, require drivers to carry UM/UIM coverage for this scenario.

However, many states, including Texas, do not mandate UM/UIM or SUM coverage. Under Texas Insurance Code 1952.101, insurance companies are required by law to offer UM/UIM coverage to you. However, drivers have the option to “reject the coverage in writing”. If you reject coverage, you must sign a form that explains what Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage provides - so you acknowledge what you are giving up.

How to Fill a SUM Claim in Texas

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you should do everything you would do in an accident with an insured driver. Preserve evidence at the accident scene, get medical care promptly, and contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Under the terms of your insurance policy, you need to notify your insurance company promptly after an accident. Filing a SUM or UM/UIM claim is much like filing any other bodily injury claim, except it is done with your own insurance carrier. If the driver that caused your injury had insurance, it may not be immediately obvious that their insurance coverage is insufficient. A SUM claim can be filed once you realize this additional coverage is necessary. If you already have a Texas personal injury representing you, they can assist with filing your uninsured motorist claim.

Discuss Your Accident with a Lawyer

The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming and confusing - especially when uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is involved. Many people mistakenly believe their own insurance company will offer them a fair settlement when they file uninsured motorist claims. Unfortunately, this is not typically the case. For insurance companies, claims are business transactions and your own insurance company will want to settle your claim quickly and cheaply.

Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the insurance claims process and negotiate compensation for your injuries alone. Brooks & Radchenko is a top Dallas personal injury law firm. We can help you understand your legal rights and options, and obtain the fair compensation you deserve for medical care, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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