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What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

As a personal injury attorney, I often find myself asked interesting questions about automobile insurance coverage. The most common question I encounter, is “why do I need uninsured motorist coverage if I already have insurance?” People are unsure what uninsured motorist coverage is and often look at this type of coverage as an unnecessary addition to their car insurance. Quite simply, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides insurance coverage to the policyholder for damages caused by the negligence of a driver (typically referred to as a “tortfeasor”) of a vehicle that does not have insurance. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is similar in that, should the tortfeasor’s bodily injury coverage be insufficient to pay for the economic and non-economic losses of the policyholder, it can aid in covering the deficiency. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage’s purpose is to protect the insured and provide the same coverage that would have been available to the insured had the negligent tortfeasor obtained liability coverage equal to that of the insured.

Like an insured’s bodily injury automobile insurance coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist covers medical bills that exceed the available no-fault (PIP) benefits, future medical expenses, lost wages not covered under PIP, pain and suffering, future loss of earning potential and other non-economic damages. The cost of adding UM/UIM coverage to an insured’s monthly premium in order to purchase this coverage is small compared to the potentially disastrous situation created in the event of an automobile crash caused by an uninsured or underinsured tortfeasor.

Florida does not require drivers to have liability insurance. Likely because of that fact, Florida has one of the highest rates of underinsured drivers in the country. Uninsured motorist coverage is the only way for a victim of the tortfeasor’s negligent actions to make any recovery for their medical bills, lost wages, and other non-economic damages. The Insurance Research Council has estimated that nearly 19% of Florida drivers are uninsured. Further, there are an extraordinarily high number of drivers possessing a minimal amount of bodily injury coverage.  In Florida, it is common to see policies limited to $10,000 of insurance to cover damages. 

So, what is the net benefit of having Underinsured motorist coverage when the negligent tortfeasor has bodily injury coverage? The answer to this question, as is often the case in the legal profession, is “it depends.” If the tortfeasor has sufficient coverage to pay for all of your damages, then there is no benefit. However, the more likely scenario is one in which the tortfeasor will have coverage, but that coverage won’t be great enough to provide sufficient benefits to pay all of the victim’s medical bills and help the victim recoup their lost wages. Say, for example, the tortfeasor has standard 10/20 coverage. What this means is that the tortfeasor’s bodily injury coverage insurer will pay up to $10,000.00 of damages sustained by one person in an accident caused by its insured, and a grand total of $20,000.00 of damages sustained by any number of people in the accident caused by its insured. If your vehicle had 4 people in it at the time of the accident, the maximum payout from the insurer is $20,000.00 combined for all parties. While these amounts might sound like large sums, they typically do not cover much in the way of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused in accidents where the victims suffer any type of severe injuries. Initially, $10,000 sounds like a great deal of money, but those costs add up quickly especially if there are medical liens above and beyond what your personal injury protection policy will cover.

On its most basic level, UIM and UM coverage makes your insurance carrier responsible for paying the damages that otherwise would have been the responsibility of the tortfeasor. It ensures that the medical bills for your care for injuries sustained in an automobile crash are paid for and that you aren’t left footing a hefty bill.

The attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have years of experience dealing with the insurance companies, varying insurance policies, and those who are in need of filing insurance claims. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile accident, call the Clearwater insurance lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today. We can help you navigate the complex path in maximizing your insurance company claim. Our phone number is 727-451-6900. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765