Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage – What You Need to Know
By Attorney Brian Dunmire
Nearly 1 in 4 Florida Drivers Have No Insurance
Despite auto insurance being mandatory, it may surprise you to find that nearly 1 in 4 drivers in Florida operate their vehicles without insurance. Not only is this careless on their part, but if you find yourself involved in a devastating auto accident with one of these drivers, you may be forced to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket in damages, medical bills, and other expenses. However, you can protect yourself and your family from these motorists by getting covered with an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist policy, or UM for short.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning insurance companies cover their policyholders in minor car accidents. Florida drivers must purchase PIP insurance, which has a limit of $10,000.00 for medical expenses and other costs. If your medical bills exceed the $10,000.00 in PIP benefits than you are left responsible for those remaining amounts. Often other drivers will have little to no bodily injury insurance. If someone with no bodily injury, insurance or very little insurance injures you, you could be left with outstanding medical bills.
Having a UM policy is the number one piece of advice we give to all our clients. UM is an enforceable agreement between an insurance company and the insured, used to protect the insured from the motorist who does not have – or who may have very little – auto insurance. Your UM carrier may compensate for:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost wages and disability
- Long term nursing care
- Wheelchairs and medical devices
- Pain & suffering
- Replacement services for tasks you are no longer able to do (home maintenance, cleaning, etc.)
- Cost to modify your home to accommodate disabilities caused by an auto accident
Obtaining a UM policy is one of the best ways to prepare for the financial fallout that is likely to accompany an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver. This coverage can be the difference between financial security and financial ruin after an accident.
Stacked v. Unstacked Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverages
Stacking coverage typically increases your UM coverage multiplying it by the number of vehicles insured under the policy. Giving you higher limits and a greater amount of coverage. For example, purchasing a UM policy that covers $100,000 and has three vehicles on that policy, you can “stack” the policy so that there is really $300,000 in coverage.
While unstacked coverage is cheaper, the policy will only cover that vehicle, and the limits of that coverage may be reached faster, especially when involved in a serious accident against an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
The Insurance Company Is NOT YOUR FRIEND
Drivers in Florida are not required to have UM coverage, in fact, insurance companies will often discourage their insured from purchasing a UM policy to avoid large payouts. Ultimately, it’s in the best interest of insurance carriers for you not to be fully covered.
Be aware, the compensation from a UM policy is not automatic. You still need to prove that the accident was due to another motorist’s negligence, and you have sustained serious, if not permanent damage as a result of said accident. Often, UM carriers fight just as hard, if not harder to reduce the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive. Even if your case seems clear-cut, some insurers will implement stalling strategies to delay or even avoid paying legitimate claims.
The personal injury lawyers at The Orlando Law Group have years of experience dealing with insurance companies, varying insurance policies, and the claims process. We can help you navigate the complex path and maximize your insurance claim. Reach out to us to find out if you qualify for an uninsured motorist claim.