Florida law requires every registered vehicle owner to obtain a certain degree of auto insurance coverage. However, full auto insurance coverage is a vague term thrown around by many auto insurance providers in Florida. Besides, the name is nothing to go by because it only includes minimum liability insurance coverage, consisting of personal injury protection (PIP) of not less than $10,000 per person and property damage worth at least $10,000.
As a no-fault state, every driver injured in a car accident files a claim under their personal injury protection coverage to get compensation for medical costs and other financial losses, despite who is responsible for the crash. According to an Insurance Research Council report, one in every eight drivers is uninsured nationwide, and Florida is sixth among the states with the highest percentages of uninsured drivers. On average, 20.4% of Florida motorists remain uninsured, meaning there is a higher chance that you will have to pay significant out-of-pocket amounts if you are involved in a serious accident with an uninsured driver. This remains to be the case when you sustain major injuries in an accident involving someone who has limited liability coverage.
So what can help you weather these kinds of situations? Uninsured and underinsured insurance covers. These add-ons to the typical auto insurance coverage help cater to the costs other drivers cannot pay for and what you need to pay out of your pocket. The add-ons 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.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Uninsured motorist coverage provides extra security to drivers who are hit by drivers who do not have any liability insurance coverage. In Florida, it is not mandatory to take out uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance. However, auto insurers are obliged to offer it to you, and you have the option of turning it down. If you opt not to purchase this coverage, the state expects you to fill a rejection or waiver form.
Compulsory or not, this optional cover remains to be very important and could save you thousands in damage and injury costs. It also spares you the agony and expenses of filing a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party with no insurance or significant assets to compensate for your injuries and vehicle damage.
Insurance companies set a limit on how much you can obtain for uninsured motorist insurance coverage, and this amount should not exceed your primary coverage amount. That’s because the UMI is significantly cheaper than regular liability coverage and insurers use limits to prevent clients from obtaining minimum liability coverage and topping that up with this more affordable alternative.
UM coverage can be added to a policy for a small amount of money. Uninsured insurance coverage also comes in handy when you are involved in a hit and run or hit by a driver who’s underinsured or has minimum car insurance that is not enough to pay for serious injuries you sustained. Besides, it covers you and your family members whether you are riding in your vehicle or somebody else’s vehicle. Even better, you remain protected as a pedestrian or cyclist, standing a chance to have your medical bills and the other expenses paid for in all these situations.
How to File for Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured claims are filed against your insurance company and progress similarly to standard car insurance claims. You should file your uninsured motorist’s claims as soon as possible. This could be immediately you realize the other driver does not have insurance, or they refuse to share their insurance information.
The claim process involves a pretrial investigation, and you’ll be expected to provide witness statements, medical records, and other relevant evidence forms. However, you cannot file a lawsuit against your insurance provider.
If you do not agree on a settlement amount with your insurer, you can only settle the matter through arbitrations and not a court trial. When you take the arbitration route, beware that you have limited rights to appeal, and should you lose, you must contend with the arbitrator’s decision. Additionally, when pursuing such claims, beware that your insurance provider will ask you to forgo pursuing any payments from the other party once the settlement is complete.
Uninsured Motorist V Underinsured Motorist Insurance
Underinsured motorist insurance covers drivers who have insufficient insurance to pay for all the damages and injuries they cause. For instance, it is applicable when a driver caused a multiple car accident, and their insurance coverage is not enough to cater for all the repairs. This coverage is similar to the uninsured motorist in numerous ways, including the fact that it is a claim against your insurance company. It also covers the same expenses, such as your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of consortium.
UIM and UM coverage is essential in Florida, where current accident laws are lax, and many motorists do not understand the importance of comprehensive car insurance. The amount of payout you receive from an underinsured motorist insurance claim is your UIM coverage limit minus any amount you receive from the other party. It is only applicable when the driver has some type of insurance and is limited to instances when your underinsured driver’s coverage exceeds the other driver’s liability coverage.
An underinsured claim proceeds like the uninsured claim process, but it may take longer to kick off and mostly begins after you and your lawyer are aware of the total value of your claim.
Types of Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance coverage
These are the four main types of uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): It pays for injuries plus pain and suffering for you and your passengers when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured at-fault driver. It also applies when an uninsured driver hits you while you are on foot or riding a bike.
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): It tops up for medical bills for you and your passenger when a driver with insufficient coverage hits you.
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): Pays for severe damages to your car or property by an uninsured driver. This coverage is not comprehensive, and it is better paired with another form of car insurance. You may pass on taking it out if you already have collision coverage.
- Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD): Offers the same coverage as UMPD only for drivers with insufficient coverage.
What Is Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Stacked insurance involves combining underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage limits to cover multiple vehicles. Florida allows stacking if you have a single policy for several cars or two or more policies in your name. Your limit for stacked insurance depends on the number of vehicles under one policy or the number of policies you have. For instance, when you have UM coverage of $10,000 when you stack, you can get up to $20,000 compensation. With stacked insurance, you get more coverage for your medical bills and other non-economic expenses, ensuring you minimize out-of-pocket expenses. On the flip side, you must pay more premiums with this type of coverage.
Unstacked insurance is a cheaper alternative that does not allow drivers to stack their uninsured, underinsured motorist coverage. The premiums for your coverage are lower, and the limits for your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage Florida remain the same for each policy or vehicle that is covered.
Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage If I Have Health Insurance?
As earlier mentioned, you don’t need uninsured motorist coverage Florida, especially not when you already have health insurance. But you stand to gain more if you have it. That’s because although your health insurance will pay for your medical bills after a car accident, it will not help you recover lost wages or pain and suffering losses. At the same time, your health insurance is subject to your premium limit, plus multiple co-pays and deductibles. Not to forget, if you had passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident, you might have to pay for their medical costs out of your pocket. So for these reasons, it is best if you take out uninsured motorist coverage despite already having health insurance. And anyway, more insurance is always better than less because you have more treatment options and financial protection.
Do You Need Help With an Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claim?
With the growing number of accidents and uninsured drivers in Florida, it is increasingly crucial for you to take out an Uninsured Motorists Insurance claim. Unfortunately, uninsured insurance is not as straightforward as standard liability coverage. The attorneys at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA are knowledgeable, and you can rely on us for more information on uninsured motorist claims. Our accident lawyers can help you navigate claims against underinsured or uninsured drivers we deem able to compensate for your damages and injuries. We can also help you negotiate for fair compensation from your insurer. Call (305) 694-2676 today for a free consultation.