Not only does Florida have a massive number of underinsured or uninsured drivers, but it also has an extremely high accident rate, one of the highest in the entire country, in fact. In 2013, motor vehicle crashes cost the state $32 million in medical costs alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, the state of Florida had an average of 1,081 crashes per day, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Specifically, in Crestview’s county, Okaloosa, there were 3,214 crashes, 2,024 injuries and 21 fatalities in 2016 alone, according to the Florida DHSMV. With crashes and injuries so rampant in Florida, even in our own county, you need to be protected in case of an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident.
Florida’s Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Problem
According to the Insurance Research Council’s 2012 national study, Florida had 3.2 million uninsured motorists, the second-highest number in the U.S. after California. This is a huge blow for drivers who pay for insurance. As Elizabeth Sprinkel, the senior vice-president of the Insurance Research Council, noted, “responsible drivers who pay for insurance end up also paying for injuries caused by uninsured drivers.” This means that if you are injured in a crash with an uninsured driver, the person most likely to pay for your injury is going to be yourself--not a good outcome in an already bad situation. This is why you need uninsured motorist coverage.
As you may or may not be aware, Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that insurance agencies cover minor accidents involving their own policyholders. It is required for Florida drivers to buy personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP covers medical and related expenses up to $10,000 but in order to receive more (as in the case of serious injury), you need to file a claim against the other party.
However, drivers in Florida are not required to purchase insurance in the case of harming someone else. Those that do purchase that insurance, known as bodily-injury (BI) liability coverage, often buy low levels to save money. Which in turn means there is not much money when a real injury does happen. If a person without enough or any insurance injures you, you may be the one shelling out the funds needed to pay for medical bills and relevant expenses. This is where underinsured and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage come in.
How to Buy Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The terms underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage can be a little confusing. Underinsured/uninsured coverage protects insured drivers injured or involved in a traffic accident caused by a motorist with little to no auto insurance. It may shock you to know that Florida does not require drivers to have insurance which pertain to those they may injure. So, protecting yourself is a necessity.
Before you purchase UM coverage, you must first buy bodily-injury (BI) liability coverage. The UM amount purchasable depends on the amount of BI insurance you bought. You may only purchase up to, but not exceeding, the amount you have already paid for BI coverage. In some instances, if you purchase BI liability coverage and do not sign a UM coverage rejection form, then you may naturally receive the UM coverage in equal measure to the BI coverage you just bought. Regardless of how both steps are completed, once you have both BI and UM coverage you have gained an excellent protection against future motor vehicle accidents.
The Benefits of UM Motorist Coverage
There are many benefits to purchasing uninsured motorist coverage, including:
Coverage: UM insurance protects drivers involved in an accident with a motorist who has little or no insurance and is not capable of covering the full damages they have caused. The coverage activates when the damage amount exceeds what the at-fault party can pay. This way, if the other driver is about to leave you high and dry, your UM coverage policy becomes your primary protection against damages incurred.
Worst-Case Protection: As stated previously, Florida’s accident, uninsured motorist and crash rates are all extremely high. The fact of the matter is that you can’t know if the other motorists on the road have insurance or not. UM coverage shields you from the risk that another driver may be lacking in the insurance department.
Peace of Mind: Driving in a state with so many accidents and uninsured motorists could lead to some pretty significant worry. The idea of being bankrupted by a careless, uninsured driver is terrifying. Get UM coverage and know your insurance has got you covered, no matter what insurance the other drivers out there have.
The Personal Injury Attorneys at Browning Law Firm Are Here to Help
Navigating the complex waters of insurance liability issues is a difficult task. This is compounded when claims involve underinsured or uninsured drivers. If you are in a car accident and the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you will need uninsured motorist coverage. Once you have UM insurance, you’ll be protected.
However, in order to receive full compensation, you may need to bring multiple claims against the at-fault party. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Browning Law Firm are here to help. With experience and insider legal knowledge, we are here to help you overcome your uninsured or underinsured motorist troubles, so you can get back to living—and driving—carefree. Contact a personal injury attorney at Browning Law Firm today and get the support, guidance and dedication you need to succeed.