Probably the least understood coverage on an automobile insurance policy is the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. Of course, the uninsured motorist problem varies widely from state to state, but statistics from the Insurance Research Council show that in a study recently released, in 2007 Florida was one of the five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates, stating that 23% of drivers on the road in Florida were uninsured drivers. There is no way to determine how many drivers are underinsured in the case of a serious accident, but in all likelihood, it would be a staggering amount.
The law in Florida does not require drivers to carry insurance coverage to pay for bodily injury to others. In other words, insurance which pays for medical expenses, lost wages and, if you have suffered a permanent injury, pain and suffering. However, Florida law does require that drivers carry property damage coverage to pay for any property damage that may be caused to your car or other property. The sad fact is, many drivers don’t carry any insurance at all, and as a result, we take a risk every time we operate an automobile in the State of Florida that we will be injured in an accident by a person who does not have enough insurance coverage available to cover our injury claim nor adequate personal assets to satisfy a judgment.
If the injuries sustained in an automobile accident are minor, it is possible that the PIP benefits of $10,000.00 may provide adequate coverage. However, many drivers sustain serious injuries in auto accidents that would far exceed the PIP benefits. By purchasing Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage, you can be assured that insurance benefits will be available in the event you are injured in an accident caused by the uninsured/underinsured driver.
Unfortunately, insurance companies avoid paying claims whenever possible and many times even try to discourage drivers from purchasing UM coverage by telling them it’s just excess coverage because they already have medical payments coverage, or if they have health insurance they don’t need UM coverage. UM coverage is not that expensive and can more than pay for itself if you are injured by an uninsured/underinsured driver.
UM coverage protects you and usually the passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident. UM coverage protects you even if you are a passenger in another person’s vehicle or if you are a pedestrian at the time of the accident. UM coverage protects you when the accident is caused by a hit and run driver or if the identity of the other driver is otherwise unknown.
Your UM coverage in Florida can be stacked. This means that the limits of your policy can be multiplied by the number of cars that are insured on your policy. In other words, if you have $100,000.00 in UM coverage and you insured two cars on your policy on the date of an accident, you should have a total limit of $200,000.00 available in UM coverage.
Personal health insurance coverage will only cover a portion of your damages in a serious automobile accident. Even if your medical expenses are covered by your health insurance, if you have not obtained UM coverage, you will not be able to recover your lost wages and pain and suffering that you sustained in the accident.
Here at Schuler, Halvorson and Weisser, P.A., our team of personal injury lawyers understand the insurance laws in the State of Florida and are always committed to protecting your rights and best interests. If you or your loved ones are ever involved in a dispute over uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, we urge you to seek advice from one of our experienced personal injury attorneys before talking with anyone from your insurance company. We will provide you with a free consultation, with no attorney’s fees or costs, unless and until you receive compensation.