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Everything You Need to Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida

on  Car Accidents

If you’re a driver in Florida, you’ll want to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. Why? Because Florida ranks number two in the nation for uninsured drivers. In Florida, nearly 25% of all drivers are uninsured – even though the law requires drivers to purchase a minimum amount of car insurance. 

If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, you could be left to pay all your damages and expenses alone. If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you might not have the money you need – when you need it most. 

Uninsured insurance (UM) and underinsured insurance (UIM) coverage is an add-on to the typical auto insurance coverage to 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.

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. 

If you have a UM or UIM policy, you can hire a car accident lawyer to help you file a claim with your insurance company.

What Is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

Uninsured motorist coverage provides extra security when other drivers hit you without liability insurance coverage. 

In Florida, taking out uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance is not mandatory. However, auto insurers are obliged to 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. If you purchase bodily injury coverage in Florida, you will automatically receive uninsured motorist coverage unless you sign a form specifically stating that you reject uninsured motorist coverage.

Compulsory or not, this optional cover is very important and could save you thousands in damage and injury costs after a car accident in Miami or anywhere in Florida. 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 (the amount of bodily injury coverage that you have). That’s because the UMI is significantly cheaper than regular liability coverage. Insurers use limits to prevent clients from obtaining minimum liability coverage and topping that up with this more affordable alternative.

Typically, UM coverage can be added to a policy for a little 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. 

Even better, it covers you and your family whether you are riding in your vehicle or somebody else’s vehicle. You also remain protected as a pedestrian or cyclist, standing a chance to have your accident expenses and medical bills paid for in all these situations.

In Florida, you can use UM and UIM to pay for:

  • Medical expenses, both present and future
  • Disability costs
  • Lost wages, earnings, and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future loss of earning potential

Florida Uninsured Motorist Statute

Specific statutes govern Florida’s laws regarding uninsured motorist coverage. One key statute is Florida Statute 627.727, which outlines the regulations for motor vehicle insurance, including provisions for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Here’s a simplified overview of these rules:

  • Requirement for Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your insurance will only compensate you if you have uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Policy Limits: The coverage limits of an uninsured motorist policy must at least match the limits of your bodily injury liability coverage.
  • Definition of an Uninsured Motorist: An uninsured motorist is a driver who is at fault in an accident but cannot pay an amount equal to their legal liability and whose bodily injury liability limits are lower than the victim’s damages.
  • Process for Claiming Compensation: If an uninsured driver can’t pay for the damages they caused, the victim must send a written notice of the settlement to their insurance company within 30 days to receive compensation.
  • Coverage Exclusions: Uninsured motorist insurance typically doesn’t cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering unless these damages involve loss of bodily function, permanent scarring, permanent injury with a high degree of medical certainty, or death.

In Florida, while uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory, insurance companies are required to offer it as an option when choosing your insurance plan. This statute is important for Florida residents to understand, as it affects how they can be compensated following an accident with an uninsured driver.

How to File for Uninsured Motorist Insurance

Uninsured claims are filed against your insurance company and progress like 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 if 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 Vs. Underinsured Motorist Insurance

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.

Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Underinsured motorist insurance covers drivers with insufficient insurance to pay for all the damages and injuries they cause. For instance, it is applicable when a driver causes a multiple-car accident. Their insurance coverage may not be enough for all the repairs in this situation. In this situation, the car accident claim exceeds insurance policy limits

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.

In contrast, uninsured motorist coverage only kicks in when the other driver has no insurance. Purchasing both UM and UIM insurance coverage is best to protect yourself from all types of car accident scenarios. 

Types of Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

These are the four main types of uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage:

  1. Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This insurance 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.
  1. Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This insurance coverage tops up for medical bills for you and your passenger when a driver with insufficient coverage hits you.
  1. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): Pays for severe damages to your car or property by an uninsured driver. This coverage is not comprehensive and is better paired with another form of car insurance. You may pass on taking it out if you already have collision coverage.
  1. Underinsured motorist property damage (UIMPD): Offers the same coverage as UMPD for drivers with insufficient coverage.

What Is Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Stacked insurance in Florida combines 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. Conversely, 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 in Florida remain the same for each covered policy or vehicle.

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage If I Have Health Insurance?

Uninsured motorist coverage is optional in Florida. However, many drivers want to know if they need to purchase it. Since it is optional, Florida law does not require you to purchase UM or UIM. However, you stand to gain more if you have it. 

Even though you may have other types of car and health insurance, you’ll pay significantly more out-of-pocket if you’re injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver. That’s because although your health insurance will pay for your medical bills after an auto 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 to take out uninsured motorist coverage despite already having health insurance.

Do You Need Help With a Florida Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claim?

With the growing number of accidents and uninsured drivers in Florida, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance policy to collect compensation after an accident. If you have UM or UIM, we can help you do that. Even though it is your insurance policy, filing a claim isn’t as straightforward as you think. Your insurance company won’t want to pay you easily. 

The Florida car accident attorneys at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA 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.