No one ever thinks they will be involved in a car accident. However, planning for one is always a good idea. Unfortunately, many drivers do not, and they continue to drive uninsured. As such, you need to protect yourself with uninsured motorist coverage.
Do you know the pros and cons of uninsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist insurance can cover damages caused by a negligent uninsured driver. With it, you can receive compensation for auto accident damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. However, not all drivers may think uninsured motorist coverage is for them. That's why it's essential to know the pros and cons of uninsured motorist coverage.
How Do I Prepare for a Car Accident With Uninsured Motorists?
Accidents happen, which is why uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage could help you out. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019 there were nearly seven million police-reported crashes in the United States.
Over the course of a typical driving lifetime, a driver can expect to be involved in three to four accidents. Even with statistics like this, it is still easy to think it will never happen to you. But as the old adage says, you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Florida uninsured motorist coverage can help you do this.
There are various ways a driver can prepare for a car accident, including planning their route ahead of time, practicing safe driving habits, and staying alert while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to avoid an accident no matter how many preventive steps they take. You cannot control the other driver's behavior or whether they have insurance to pay for potentially thousands of dollars worth of damage they could cause.
How Many Florida Drivers Are Uninsured?
Florida law mandates a minimal auto insurance standard, but Florida does not require drivers to have liability insurance. Even though Florida requires some coverage, Florida ranks number two in the nation for the highest portion of uninsured drivers, which is around 24%.
"1 in 4 drivers on Florida roads do not have any car insurance."
With all of these factors out of the driver's control, the best way to prepare for an accident is to protect yourself from the financial fallout that is likely to accompany an accident by purchasing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage can make all the difference between financial security and financial ruin after an accident.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage function much like Bodily Injury Automobile Insurance coverage. UM coverage provides insurance coverage to the policyholder for damages caused by the negligence of a vehicle driver that does not have insurance. UIM coverage provides insurance coverage should the negligent driver's insurance coverage be insufficient to pay for all of the harm they cause.
You can use UM and UIM to pay for:
- Medical expenses, both present and future
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Future loss of earning potential
- Disability costs
Different Categories of Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policies
There is not just one type of uninsured motorist insurance coverage; there are multiple categories that each cover different damages. You can include different types of coverage for whatever kinds of damages you desire. It would be best if you looked over the details of each policy to determine which one is right for you.
The following are two of the categories of UM/UIM insurance you are allowed to purchase in Florida:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UM or UMBI): This type of insurance covers a driver involved in an accident caused by the negligence of an uninsured driver. It will cover damages related to your physical injuries, such as medical expenses.
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIM or UIMBI): Similar to UM or UMBI, this type of insurance can cover damages related to bodily injury. It is meant for drivers with insurance but not enough to cover the damages.
Some categories of policies are only purchasable in some states. For example, you cannot purchase UM/UIM property damage insurance in Florida. However, you can in other states, such as Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, etc. Check your state's UM coverage rules and speak with a personal injury lawyer to determine what damages you want covered by your policy.
Florida Uninsured Motorist Statute
The statutes of each state dictate rules to the population of that state and can include rules about uninsured motorist coverage. Florida Statute 627.727 includes laws about motor vehicle insurance, including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
The following are some of the rules about uninsured motorist coverage outlined in this statute:
- No money from a car accident victim's insurance can be delivered to a victim of an accident with an uninsured driver unless they hold uninsured motorist coverage.
- The limits of an uninsured motorist policy should not be less than the person's bodily injury liability limits.
- An uninsured motorist is considered a motorist involved in an accident that cannot make a payment equal to their legal liability and has provided limits of bodily injury liability less than the damages to the victim.
- If an uninsured driver cannot afford to pay the damages caused by their negligence, the victim has 30 days to send a written notice of settlement to the insurance company to receive payment.
- Uninsured motorist insurance does not cover pain and suffering damages unless the non-economic damage includes loss of bodily function, permanent scarring, a permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability, or death.
- The state of Florida does not require uninsured motorist coverage, but insurance companies must present it as an option when you select your insurance plan.
Pros of Obtaining Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Since UM coverage protects you after an injury accident with an uninsured driver, the main pro of obtaining uninsured motorist coverage is that you will have the money you need regardless of the other driver. Even though Florida is a no-fault state, after you exhaust your PIP coverage, you may need additional funds to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and more. UM coverage can do just that. It prevents you from suffering unnecessary financial burdens because of another driver's mistakes.
Pro: Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you purchase UM or UIM coverage, you may be able to take advantage of what is known as “stacking.” In the context of UM and UIM coverage, the policyholder can stack coverage based on the number of vehicles covered under the policy. For instance, if you purchase a $100,000 UM / UIM policy and have three vehicles on the policy, you can “stack” the policy so that there is really $300,000 in coverage. The amount of coverage multiplies by the number of cars covered under the policy.
Pro: Protection Against a Hit-and-Run Accident
A hit-and-run accident is when a negligent driver strikes your car, causes an accident, and flees the scene without exchanging contact information. You typically cannot pursue compensation from a negligent hit-and-run driver because you have no way of contacting them or their insurance company.
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) and uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) policies generally cover hit-and-run accidents. Whether you can purchase one of these policies varies by state. In Florida, you can buy a UMBI policy to protect you from damages caused by a hit-and-run accident.
Cons of Obtaining Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The only real con of obtaining uninsured motorist coverage is the additional monthly premium. However, this additional cost is often minimal, sometimes just a few additional dollars a month. You can always select lower limits to keep the monthy premium lower. To learn how purchasing UM/UIM insurance will affect your premiums, it is important to talk to your insurance agent and ask upfront.
Even with the additional cost, UM insurance gives you the peace of mind you need to know that you have coverage in case of an accident. When another driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have adequate insurance, you will be able to draw from your own policy and get the financial help you deserve after a crash.
Do I Need Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Drivers in Florida are not required to have either underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage is simply a way to ensure a driver can best be prepared to handle the financial fallout of an accident in the event the other driver either has no insurance or not enough. An accident can result in medical bills that climb into the hundreds of thousands.
If you combine this with the fact that almost one in four drivers in Florida does not have car insurance, the cost of adding both UM and UIM coverage is small compared to the potentially large bills that often accompany an auto accident.
Insurance Carriers Must Offer You Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Your insurance carrier is required to offer uninsured motorist coverage. If you wish to reject the coverage, you must do so in writing. If you reject UM or UIM coverage, realize the insurance broker will likely avoid explaining the importance of UM or UIM coverage. This type of policy tips heavily in favor of the insured person, as it exposes the insurance carrier to much greater risk.
"It's in the best interest of insurance carriers for you not to have full coverage."
The bottom line is that accidents are going to happen. You cannot control the other drivers on the road, so it's best to take advantage of what you can control; your insurance coverage. Adding UM or UIM coverage to your policy will ensure you can deal with the financial fallout that often accompanies an auto accident. Before you opt-out of the coverage, make sure you do your research so you can make a sound decision rather than relying on the advice of an insurance broker.
How Can a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Help You Following an Uninsured Motorist Accident?
Following a car accident, it's essential to get in touch with a reputable law firm to help you pursue compensation for damages caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you with complex legal processes while recovering from your injuries. They will have in-depth knowledge of car accident claims you lack that can help you recover damages.
The following are some of the ways a motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you with the claims process following an uninsured motorist accident:
Determine Whether Your Uninsured Motorist Insurance Can Cover the Damages
Following a motor vehicle accident, you may suffer many damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Although a UM policy can cover damages following a motor vehicle accident, it may not fully cover all the damages you suffered. There are two things to consider regarding UM coverage and your motor vehicle accident damage:
- Do the damages exceed your UM coverage policy's limits?
- Are the specific types of damages covered by UM insurance?
In Florida, UM insurance coverage has a minimum amount of 10/20, which means coverage starts at $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. You can include more coverage, but that will increase your premium. Depending on what you include in your coverage plan, your policy may not cover some damages. For example, you may not include property damage in your UM policy, which means you cannot receive insurance money for that type of damage.
Your uninsured motorist lawyer can assess your damages, look at your insurance coverage, and determine whether your insurance can cover your damages. If you are not fully covered, they can help you pursue other avenues to recover damages.
Communicate With Your Insurance Company to Ensure You Receive Compensation
Your insurance company can only pay for uninsured motorist accident damages if they know what is happening. Your car crash lawyer's job is to make your insurance company aware of the accident, the damages you suffered, and how much compensation you need to pay for the damages.
Your motor vehicle accident lawyer can expedite the process of receiving compensation for your damages by maintaining a fluid line of communication between them and the insurance company. They can provide specific details of the accident, updates on your condition, and answer any questions the insurance company asks.
Collect Records to Provide to Your Insurance Company
To receive money from the insurance company for an uninsured motorist accident, your motor vehicle accident lawyer will have to send them essential records vital to the accident. These records can help verify the accident took place, what injuries you suffered, and how much compensation should be sufficient.
The following are some of the records your lawyer should keep track of to send to your insurance company:
- Traffic crash reports
- Medical records
- Records showing proof of income, such as pay stubs
- Vehicle damage estimates
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
When you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver, it is essential to have an experienced Florida car accident attorney on your side from the start. Your attorney can work with your own insurance company to ensure that you get the money you deserve.
The attorneys at Dolman Law Group have years of experience helping car accident victims with varying insurance policies and dealing with insurance companies.
If you or a loved one has received an injury in an automobile accident, call the Florida insurance lawyers at Dolman Law Group today. We can help you navigate the complex path to maximizing your insurance claim. We offer a free consultation to motor vehicle accident victims to show them how we can help them through the claims process.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions. You can reach us in one of these three ways:
>Call Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (727) 451-6900
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