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Should I get Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage in Florida?

on  Car Accidents

Should you get uninsured motorist (UM) insurance coverage in Florida? YES! Car accidents are unpredictable, and it’s wise to be prepared. In Florida, many drivers are uninsured. Protecting yourself with uninsured motorist coverage is a smart move.

Uninsured motorist insurance safeguards you from losses caused by an uninsured driver. This coverage can help pay medical bills, lost income, and property damage from an auto accident. Yet, it’s not universally seen as necessary. However, after a car accident in Florida, you’ll be glad you have this optional coverage. 

How Common Are Uninsured Drivers in Florida?

Even though Florida requires every registered vehicle owner to carry minimum auto insurance, many do not. Florida ranks #2 in the country for uninsured drivers. Recent statistics indicate that approximately one in every four drivers in the state lacks adequate insurance coverage. This means about 25% of the motorists on Florida’s roads are uninsured or underinsured. If you get into an accident with one of these drivers, you may be left paying for your injuries and damages.

For this reason, purchasing additional UM insurance coverage is important to protect yourself after a serious accident with an uninsured driver. This add-on insurance coverage helps cover the costs other drivers cannot pay for, reducing what you must pay out of your pocket. It will also help you recover the costs not covered by your PIP and property damage coverage, like pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of consortium, plus future lost wages and medical expenses.

Should I Purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

In Florida, where the likelihood of encountering uninsured drivers is high, the question of whether to purchase Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage becomes particularly pertinent. To understand its importance, consider a typical accident scenario in Florida that leads to catastrophic injuries and substantial damages.

Imagine you’re involved in a severe car accident in Florida. The other driver, responsible for the crash, is uninsured. You sustain significant injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, and your vehicle suffers major damage. Initially, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, as mandated by Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, kicks in to cover your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. However, PIP coverage in Florida typically has a limit of $10,000, which you quickly exhaust due to the severity of your injuries and the associated medical costs.

This is where Uninsured Motorist coverage becomes crucial. Once your PIP limits are reached, your UM coverage activates to provide additional financial support. It covers the continuing medical expenses, ongoing lost wages, and other damages your PIP insurance doesn’t cover. Without UM coverage, you would face these substantial costs alone, potentially leading to financial strain on top of the physical and emotional stress of recovery.

In essence, UM coverage acts as a safety net, protecting you from the financial fallout of being involved in a serious accident with an uninsured driver. It ensures that you are not left financially vulnerable due to the irresponsible actions of another driver who chose to forgo insurance. Given the high rate of uninsured drivers in Florida and the potential for high-cost accidents, purchasing UM coverage is wise for added security and peace of mind.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is a part of an auto insurance policy that provides protection when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who either lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage. This coverage is essential in handling costs that the at-fault driver’s insurance should have covered.

In Florida, taking out uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance is not mandatory. However, auto insurers must offer it to you, and you can turn it down. If you opt not to purchase this coverage, the state expects you to complete a rejection or waiver form.

What does UM coverage pay for, and how does it benefit you?

  • Coverage for Bodily Injury: UM coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering if you’re injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
  • Hit-and-Run Accidents: UM coverage often includes situations where the at-fault driver leaves the scene and cannot be identified.
  • Protection as a Pedestrian or Cyclist: Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage in Florida protects you not only as a driver but also if you are involved in an accident as a pedestrian or cyclist, providing coverage for injuries sustained in such incidents.
  • Protection for Passengers: It also covers passengers in your vehicle who might be injured in such incidents.
  • Flexibility in Usage: UM coverage applies whether you are driving, a passenger in another vehicle, or a pedestrian.

It’s important to understand that UM coverage is optional in some states, while others may require it as part of your auto insurance policy. In Florida, although not mandatory, it’s highly recommended due to the high number of uninsured drivers. Additionally, policy limits vary, so choosing a coverage level that provides adequate protection based on your personal circumstances is crucial.

Florida Uninsured Motorist Statute

The Florida Uninsured Motorist Statute, outlined in Florida Statute 627.727, sets specific regulations for motor vehicle insurance, particularly focusing on uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Here’s a more comprehensive overview of the key rules specified in this statute:

  • Requirement for Uninsured Motorist Coverage to Receive Payment: If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your insurance will not compensate you unless you have uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Policy Limits: The coverage limit of your uninsured motorist policy must not be less than your bodily injury liability limits.
  • Definition of an Uninsured Motorist: A motorist is considered uninsured if they are responsible for an accident and unable to pay an amount equal to their legal liability. This typically means they have bodily injury liability limits lower than the damages incurred to the victim.
  • Procedure for Claiming Damages: If an uninsured driver cannot pay for the damages they caused, you, as the victim, must provide a written notice of settlement to your insurance company within 30 days to claim payment.
  • Restrictions on Coverage for Pain and Suffering: Uninsured motorist insurance in Florida does not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering unless these damages involve loss of bodily function, permanent scarring, permanent injury (as confirmed by medical probability), or death.
  • Insurance Requirements in Florida: While Florida law does not mandate uninsured motorist coverage for drivers, insurance companies must offer it as an option when choosing your insurance plan.

Understanding these rules is crucial for Florida drivers to ensure they have the appropriate coverage and follow the necessary procedures in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Benefits of Purchasing Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage offers several advantages, especially in Florida. Understanding these benefits can help you decide whether or not to add UM coverage to your insurance policy.

Financial Protection After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

The primary advantage of UM coverage is financial security. In Florida, a no-fault state, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage may not fully cover all expenses after an accident. UM coverage covers additional costs such as medical bills and lost wages, protecting you from the financial impact of another driver’s irresponsibility.

Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage

An often overlooked benefit is the ability to “stack” your UM coverage. Stacking allows you to increase your coverage based on the number of vehicles insured under your policy. For example, with a $100,000 UM/UIM policy for three vehicles, you can stack these coverages to effectively have $300,000 in total coverage. This multiplication of coverage provides a significant financial cushion in an accident.

Protection Against Hit-and-Run Accidents

UM coverage is particularly valuable in situations involving hit-and-run accidents. When a negligent driver flees the scene, you may find it impossible to seek compensation from them directly. In Florida, uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) policies cover damages from such incidents. This coverage ensures you’re not left bearing the financial burden of a hit-and-run accident, offering peace of mind and practical financial support.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage vs Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Florida 

In Florida, underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance is designed to bridge the gap when an at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover all damages and injuries they cause. 

For example, in a multi-car accident where the responsible driver’s coverage falls short of the total repair costs, UIM steps in. This coverage mirrors uninsured motorist (UM) insurance in several ways. Both are claims against your insurance policy and cover similar costs, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of consortium.

UM and UIM coverage is particularly vital in Florida due to the state’s relaxed accident laws and a common lack of awareness among motorists about the benefits of comprehensive car insurance. 

When you file a UIM claim, you will receive the difference between your UIM coverage limit and any amount already received from the at-fault party’s insurance. UIM is applicable only when the at-fault driver has some insurance, and it’s specifically used when your UIM coverage exceeds the other driver’s liability limits.

While the process for underinsured claims is similar to that for uninsured claims, it often has a delayed start. It typically begins only after you and your car accident lawyer determine the total value of your claim, which can make it a lengthier process than UM claims.

How to File an Uninsured Motorist Claim in Florida

If you’re in a Florida car accident and the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you must file a claim with your insurance company. It’s important to do this quickly, especially if you immediately find out the other driver is uninsured or won’t share their insurance information.

The process for filing an uninsured motorist claim is like a regular car insurance claim. You’ll have to go through a pre-trial investigation. This means giving your insurance company things like witness statements and medical records. One key thing to remember is that you can’t sue your insurance company over this type of claim.

Sometimes, you might not agree with your insurance company on how much money they should pay you. If this happens, the issue is usually settled through arbitration, not a court trial. Arbitration is different because you have fewer chances to appeal the decision. If the arbitrator decides against you, you have to accept it.

Also, your insurance company might ask you to agree not to try to get money from the other driver once your claim is settled.

Because this process can be complex, it’s really helpful to have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side to guide you. Your attorney can negotiate with your insurance company, present the evidence for maximum compensation, and ensure you’re treated fairly. 

Do I Need UM Coverage if I Have Health Insurance and PIP?

Why should I purchase more insurance coverage if I already have health insurance and PIP?

This is a valid question that many Florida drivers have. While it’s true that in Florida, you’re not legally required to have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage if you already have health insurance and personal injury protection (PIP), there are significant benefits to having UM coverage. This is because your health insurance and PIP may not fully cover all the costs associated with a car accident.

Here’s why UM coverage can be beneficial:

  • Covers More Than Medical Bills: Health insurance typically pays for medical expenses but doesn’t cover lost wages or compensation for pain and suffering resulting from a car accident. UM coverage can provide for these losses.
  • Limits and Deductibles in Health Insurance: Your health insurance is subject to limits, co-pays, and deductibles. This means you might still incur out-of-pocket expenses for your medical treatment after an accident.
  • Protection for Passengers: If you have passengers in your vehicle during an accident, your health insurance won’t cover their medical expenses. UM coverage can help cover the costs of injuries to your passengers.
  • Broader Treatment Options and Financial Security: Having UM coverage gives you more options for treatment and adds an extra layer of financial protection. This can be especially important if the costs associated with the accident exceed the limits of your health insurance or PIP coverage.

While UM coverage isn’t a legal necessity if you have health insurance and PIP, it offers broader protection that can be crucial in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver. It helps fill the gaps that your health insurance and PIP might leave, especially in covering non-medical losses and providing for passengers. Therefore, it’s worth considering adding UM coverage for more comprehensive protection on the road.

Contact Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers Today

Given the rising number of uninsured drivers and accidents in Florida, understanding and managing uninsured motorist insurance claims is becoming more important. These claims can be more complex than standard liability insurance claims. 

At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, we have a team of experienced attorneys who are well-versed in Florida uninsured motorist claims. For a FREE consultation and to learn more about how we can assist you with your uninsured motorist insurance claim, please contact us at (305) 694-2676.