Most of us are not insurance experts, nor do we give very much thought to exactly what kind of coverage we have. To be frank, insurance, no matter where you are is quite complicated and not the easiest thing to understand. This article seeks to clarify one aspect of Florida insurance coverage called Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It is the third part of what I like to think of as the three parts of Florida insurance: PIP, Bodily Injury (BI), and Uninsured Motorist (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage.
To start with, let's go over the basics of the first two: PIP and Bodily Injury.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection and it's a type of insurance that Florida law requires all drivers to carry. This insurance is sometimes called “no-fault coverage” because it doesn't rely on fault to determine who or what will be covered. Instead, the insurance aims for each person to cover their own injuries in the case of an accident. This is in place to prevent two parties from arguing over who was at fault for the incident.
PIP carries a $10,000 limit in Florida covering 80% of medical bills and lost wages. With PIP, each driver's own insurance company pays for their driver's losses, regardless of fault. However, this doesn't mean that PIP covers everything.
As you can imagine, $10,000 is not very much when medical bills, diagnostic costs, hospital charges, lost wages, and all the other things that come along with an injury start adding up. For the additional costs, we rely on additional insurance.
But what about if the accident was your fault and the driver wants to come after you for their additional medical bills? You know, the ones that PIP didn't cover or wasn't enough to cover. Just because PIP covers each driver individually, doesn't mean that the other driver can't still sue you. For this type of protection, there is a type of insurance called Bodily Injury Liability.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
When you are found to be legally at fault for a car accident, bodily injury liability coverage is the part of your insurance policy that pays for the treatment of the other person's injuries. This coverage also protects you in the event that you are sued by the other driver for damages.
Bodily injury insurance is typically written as two dollar amounts divided by a backslash. For example, $50,000/$100,000.
The first dollar amount represents the coverage for damages of one person who was injured in the accident. So if you had $50,000/$100,000, then you would be covered for damages up to $50,000. Meaning, your insurance company would cover up to that amount in the other driver's damages.
The second dollar amount, in this case, $100,000, represents the coverage for the total amount of damages, regardless of how many people are injured. This means that your insurance would only cover up to $100,000 in total, even if there were more than two people in the other car.
Most states require drivers to carry some amount of BI insurance, but Florida does not.
So let's now flip the example. What if you are injured with medical bills that exceed your PIP coverage? Well, the other drivers BI insurance would kick in and cover up to their limit amount. But what if they don't have BI coverage? Remember, Florida does not require it. Then who will pay your remaining medical bills and lost wages? The answer is you unless you buy protection against this scenario. This is called Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is sometimes abbreviated UM/UIM, or sometimes just UM. In Florida, they are basically the same things, so we'll call them UM in this article.
This type of coverage is important to any driver who wants to be adequately covered in the event that they or their family is seriously injured in a car accident.
PIP may cover up to $10,000, but what if your medical bills, surgeries, and lost wages add up to 40, 50, or $100,000? That's when having UM/UIM coverage will really come in handy.
The reason the coverage is called Uninsured and Underinsured is because it covers you if the other driver had no insurance at all (which would be illegal, but it happens) or if the other driver doesn't have a very large limit
In fact, a study shows that one in five drivers roaming the roads in Florida has no coverage at all. So if you want to protect your family and your wallet, this coverage is a must.
So what is it and what does it cover?
UM is optional insurance coverage that you add to your own policy. It's designed to cover you in the event that another driver causes a car accident and that driver has no BI insurance or has less coverage than the amount of your damages. It can also help if you are involved in a hit and run accident.
UM/UIM coverage can only be purchased if you have BI insurance and only up to the same limits. This is to prevent a driver from just covering themselves and not other drivers.
UM coverage can help cover:
If the other driver does have insurance, it will not always be enough to cover your expenses. If they aren't adequately covered or your costs are significant, UM coverage is a big help.
Let's look at an example.
Let's say you are injured in an accident by an at-fault driver and end up with damages totaling $60,000. You have PIP (of course, because it's the law) and the other driver has a $20,000 BI policy.
Your PIP will cover $10,000 of your damages. This leaves you with $50,000 in bills that still need to be paid. The other driver's BI kicks in and pays $20,000.
Now you have $30,000 in bills left over. If you only have Florida's minimum coverage (just PIP) then you will be stuck paying the remaining thirty-grand by yourself (from your retirement, kids' college funds, or whatever). It's not good.
However, if you have UM coverage with a policy limit of $50,000 then your costs will be more than covered. This is the only way to protect yourself and your family against financial ruin.
Insurance companies who sell insurance in Florida are required to at least offer UM motorists coverage, but it's not mandatory that you have the coverage.
However, opting for this coverage is really a no brainer. UM motorists coverage covers medical expenses and lost wages not fully paid by PIP, future medical expenses and future wage losses, and non-economic damages such as disability and pain and suffering. UM coverage also travels with you, providing protection in the same way even if you are not in your own vehicle when injured.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
UM coverage, at its simplest, is a good idea because it makes your insurance carrier responsible for damages that otherwise would have been up to you to pay out-of-pocket. It ensures that your medical bills are paid, your time off work is compensated, and that any other damages covered.
The attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and navigating insurance policies. Our role is to protect those who are injured and need their insurance companies to uphold their end of the bargain.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident and need help ensuring that your damages are covered, give us a call. We will hold your, and the other driver's, insurance company, responsible for what they rightfully owe.