12.19.2013

Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Don’t Leave Home Without It

Florida has among the highest uninsured motorist rates in the United States.  A recent study by the Insurance Research Council reported that approximately 23% of Florida drivers are uninsured, the fifth highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the nation.

According to Florida law, in most cases a Florida driver must carry $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and a minimum of $10,000 of property damage liability insurance.  Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers you regardless of whether you cause an accident (are “at-fault”) — up to $10,000 minus your deductible amount and pays for:

Bodily Injury Liability coverage (BIL) is not required by Florida law. BIL pays for serious and permanent injuries or death of persons involved in a car accident where they are not the at-fault driver or they are passengers in the at-fault drivers car.  So what happens when you are injured in an automobile accident in which the other, “at-fault,” driver has not purchased BIL coverage?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance pays if you, your passengers or family members are hit by someone who is “at-fault” and does not have insurance, or has insufficient liability insurance to cover your damages .
UM Insurance pays for medical expenses, lost wages (beyond your PIP coverage), bodily injury, sickness, disease or death resulting from a motor vehicle accident that you and your passengers suffer. However, if you do not have UM coverage, or if your UM coverage is inadequate, you may be left with no insurance coverage to pay for what could be substantial losses sustained in an automobile accident.

Although some states require UM coverage, in Florida it is an option.  This, of course, does not mean this coverage is unimportant.  Too many people reject this coverage when they consider only the additional premium payment, rather than the value of the extra protection.

In representing automobile accident victims for decades, it is my experience that even a relative minor accident can cause you to suffer injuries that could quickly surpass the PIP minimum of $10,000 for medical costs.  Therefore, the chances are shockingly high that if you are injured due to the fault of another driver, you will not be able to recover the full extent of your medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, inconvenience and other personal injury damages if you are relying solely on the negligent driver carrying an adequate level of automobile insurance.  While health insurance will usually pay for medical bills, health insurance will not pay for lost wages or compensate an injured driver or passenger for pain and suffering as a result of injuries in a car crash.  Simply put, UM coverage makes your insurance company responsible for damages that would otherwise have been the responsibility of the at-fault driver, if that driver had purchased an appropriate level insurance.  I suggest that this coverage is necessary to properly protect yourself and your family.

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