If you are a driver in Florida, you will know the importance of having motorist coverage, particularly having added coverage that protects you against different unpredictable situations. Accidents are a frequent occurrence on the roads of Florida, and in many instances, the person responsible for the accident doesn’t have adequate auto insurance. The law requires that your own insurance company will pay for any personal injury or harm you have suffered in a car accident up to the limits of your own policy.
However, as medical care is so expensive in the United States, many car accident victims are left out of pocket as their own car insurance policy is not enough to cover their damages. Usually, you can file a third-party insurance claim against the policy of the other driver. However, if they are an underinsured or uninsured motorist, it can often be impossible to get any compensation from the at-fault driver. For this reason, it is highly recommended that all drivers in Florida take out underinsured (UM coverage) or uninsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage). This way, if you get into a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you are guaranteed to be covered by your own insurance company.
Here at The Law Place, we can help explain to you the importance of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and explain how you can take it out with your own insurance company. Our law firm has over 75 years of combined experience in multiple practice areas, and we have seen the benefits of having this uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. We offer a free consultation for you to speak with our attorneys with no strings attached. We are here to help you and guide you through getting proper liability insurance.
Call us today at (941) 444-4444 to schedule a free consultation. Our phone lines are open 24/7.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Florida law requires that all drivers take out personal injury protection (PIP) of at least $10,000 for personal bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. This type of car insurance coverage serves to compensate drivers for any damage they have sustained in an auto accident up to the extent of their coverage limits.
Uninsured motorist coverage or ‘UM coverage’ is additional protection that drivers can take out to protect themselves against uninsured drivers. ‘UM’ coverage is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended, given the fact that over 20% of drivers in Florida are uninsured, according to statistics by the Insurance Research Council (IRC). If you are injured in a car accident as a result of another driver who does not have bodily injury liability coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage will compensate you for the costs of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and wrongful death.
The great thing about having uninsured motorist coverage is that even if you are not in your own vehicle at the time of an accident with an uninsured driver, your insurance company will cover the costs regardless. This means that if you were the victim of a hit and run, you will be able to receive compensation for any bodily injury you sustained under your own auto insurance policy. Additionally, UM coverage typically extends its protection to family members and passengers who were inside your vehicle at the time of an auto accident.
What Is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
If you decide to take out uninsured motorist coverage, it is recommended that you also extend this additional coverage to include underinsured or ‘UIM’ coverage. Florida drivers often take out the lowest amount of personal injury protection (PIP) possible for numerous reasons, meaning that if they cause an accident, not only are their own injuries not completely covered under their insurance policy, but also any bodily injury suffered by other drivers go uncompensated for.
Although no-fault laws in Florida require that your own auto-insurance policy compensates you for your damages, it is often the case that your medical bills are far more expensive than what is covered under your motorist insurance. If you have additional underinsured motorist or ‘UIM’ coverage, your own insurance company will cover the extra compensation not provided under your own personal injury protection (PIP) once you can prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident. However, if you don’t have this added protection, you will have to file an injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company or the driver themselves.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
If you injure another person in a car accident in Florida, it is likely that they will try to recover compensation from you to cover the costs of their medical expenses and any property damage they have sustained. It is highly recommended that you take out bodily injury liability coverage or ‘BI liability coverage’ if you are a driver in Florida, as having this means that your own auto insurance company will foot the costs of any harm you inflict on someone else, up to your liability limits. Not having this extra liability insurance coverage could end up in you having to pay out of pocket to cover the injured party.
If you take out underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, you will be required to take out BI liability insurance coverage also, and usually, it will be of equal monetary value. This means that if you take out $40,000 of bodily injury liability coverage, you can only take out $40,000 worth of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
It will be extremely difficult to recover any sort of compensation from a car accident when the at-fault driver does not have bodily injury insurance coverage and you do not have UIM coverage. Many drivers in Florida do not have this extra liability coverage, and if they do, it is often the case that they have the minimum amount possible. This is why it’s important for you to have additional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to cover the costs of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in an Auto Accident With an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver?
Motor vehicle accidents involving underinsured or uninsured drivers can be stressful, and trying to recover compensation can be a difficult and complex process. It is recommended that you speak with an uninsured motorist attorney as soon as possible following an accident to ensure that you receive compensation for any injuries you’ve suffered.
Like all car accidents in Florida, there are a number of important steps you should take following the accident to help your claim and to ensure your safety. These steps include:
- Stay at the scene – It is required by Florida law that you remain at the scene of an auto accident to give your information to the other party involved or until the police or emergency services arrive. Failure to do so could result in a criminal charge of hit and run.
- Seek medical assistance – Regardless of whether you think you have been injured in a car accident, it is important that you call an ambulance or a paramedic to get your injuries checked. This will be important for your insurance claim and also important for your health as you may have underlying injuries that you are not aware of.
- Get contact information – It is important that you get the information of the other parties involved in the car accident and witnesses to the scene. This information should include their contact details, their full name, license and registration number, and insurance company information. If they are in any way hesitant to give you information, they may be an uninsured motorist.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer – We recommend that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible following an auto accident. They will help you speak with your insurance company and the insurance companies of the other parties involved. Additionally, they can find get the at-fault driver’s claim number and use this to get a full copy of their auto-insurance policy disclosures, as provided for under Florida Statute 627.4137.
- Call your insurance company – You are required to contact your insurance company immediately following an accident. Remember not to divulge too much information to them and just give them the basic details of the accident and the damage sustained. Insurance companies are renowned for using the information you have given them against you as a means of undervaluing your claim, which is why we recommend that you take caution when speaking with them.
Once you have carried out the above steps following the accident, an attorney can help you file a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to ensure you receive the compensation you are owed. The amount of compensation you receive from your claim will depend on the level of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that you have taken out.
What Type of Compensation Can I Claim With Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
If you have been injured in a car accident involving an underinsured or uninsured motorist, and you have UIM or UM coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to compensate you for the harm you have suffered. Some damages that may be available for you to claim to include:
- Medical bills – If you have been hit and have suffered injuries in an accident, you can make a claim to cover the costs of any medical bills resulting from these injuries. This can include bills for hospital appointments, transport to and from these appointments, and any future medical expenses you incur as a result.
- Lost wages – Your uninsured motorist coverage covers any financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of the accident, including lost wages. This can include any potential future earnings you would have made.
- Property damage – You can make a claim to cover the costs of any damage to your vehicle or any valuable items contained inside at the time of the collision.
- Pain and suffering – If you have UM coverage, you may be able to recover compensation for any pain and suffering as a result of the collision. In order to receive these damages, you must prove that your injuries meet a “permanent injury threshold,” as provided under Florida Statute 627.737.
- Wrongful death – A lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim under your uninsured motorist coverage to recover compensation for funeral costs and a loss of consortium.
Florida uninsured motorist claims can be a lengthy process, and car insurance companies are often hesitant to pay you out the compensation you are owed. It is recommended that you contact an experienced lawyer who can help you file a claim under your UM coverage to ensure that you receive justice.
Why Should I Take Out Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
As we have noted in the paragraphs above, having underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is extremely important for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are a huge number of uninsured motorists on the roads of Florida, and the risk of having an auto accident is extremely high. If you find yourself in an accident without the protection of UM coverage, you may be forced to pay the full costs of your medical bills and damage to your property, which can be extremely expensive in Florida.
Secondly, insurance companies in Florida benefit from you not having this extra car insurance coverage. They are very aware of the huge risk of a motor vehicle accident happening with a Florida uninsured motorist, and not having this added UM coverage means that they don’t have to compensate you for any harm you suffer in an uninsured motorist accident.
Thirdly, the extra costs you pay each month are bare in comparison to the amount of money you will lose if you are injured in a collision with an underinsured or uninsured driver. Your personal injury protection (PIP) will cover some of your damages. However, if your collision is serious and you are severely injured, you may be left paying medical costs for years following the collision. Even if your family members are the people who have been injured in the collision, UM/UIM insurance will compensate them for any injuries or harm they have suffered.
Contact The Law Place Today
Here at The Law Place, we believe that the benefits of having uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage hugely outweigh the extra money you have to pay each month to your insurance company. Usually, the cost to purchase this added insurance to cover damage from uninsured or underinsured drivers is quite low in comparison to the risk of getting into an auto accident.
Our law firm believes that you can never have enough auto insurance, as Florida drivers are renowned for driving recklessly and being uninsured. We recommend that you purchase as much UM/UIM insurance as you can afford in order to cover and protect yourself on the roads of Florida. If you are still unsure as to whether you should take out this extra coverage, you should call our firm today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. They can provide you with more information and help you decide whether you should purchase underinsured and uninsured auto coverage.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24/7.