What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage applies if someone causes a crash and injures you but they have no insurance or very little insurance. The easiest way to explain it is to list the types of coverage in Florida:
Bodily Injury liability coverage – it pays money if you cause a crash and hurt someone else. Unbelievably, this is not required in Florida. Florida is the only state not to require an at fault driver to carry this coverage. A law to pass mandatory bodily coverage was pushed but vetoed by the Florida Governor in 2021.
Property damage coverage – it pays money if you cause a crash and/or damage property while driving your vehicle. It does not cover injuries to anyone.
Personal injury protection – it pays $10,000.00 for your medical bills and your wage loss regardless of who causes the crash. It is like a small health insurance policy. If you did not cause the crash, your rates will not increase unless you have had three crashes in a three year period. If you fail to see a medical provider within the 14 days following the crash, you lose this coverage completely. The benefits may be limited to $2,500.00 unless you have an emergency medical condition.
What does uninsured motorist cover?
If the owner and driver of the vehicle that causes the crash does not have bodily injury liability coverage, then uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical bills, wage loss, and money for your suffering. This coverage protects you and using it does not raise your rates when you do not cause the crash unless you have three accidents regardless of fault within a three year period.
How is underinsured motorist coverage different?
If the owner and driver of the vehicle that causes the crash does not have enough bodily injury liability coverage for your medical bills, wage loss, and suffering, then underinsured motorist coverage pays. This coverage protects you and using it does not raise your rates when you do not cause the crash unless you have been involved in three crashes in a five year period. For example, if the at fault party had $10,000.00 of bodily injury coverage, it will not help you if you had to go to the hospital, and incur over $10,000.00 of unpaid medical bills, and had to have follow up treatment and therapy. Hospitals are extremely expensive. Underinsured motorist coverage, if you purchased it, would help you in this example.
Why is uninsured motorist coverage important?
Few drivers have bodily injury coverage and those that do often only have $10,000.00 in coverage, which is less than many emergency room bills. In fact, one of the major insurance carriers in Florida often does not sell bodily injury coverage since Florida law does not require most people to have bodily injury liability coverage for injuries they cause. You, your family members and friends riding with you will be protected if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Sadly, many drivers in Florida do not purchase bodily injury liability coverage. This leaves you with personal injury protection of $10,000.00. One trip to the emergency room can cost $15,000.00. This leaves many people without money to pay the entire hospital bill, future doctor appointments, and wage loss. So, if you miss six months from work after ankle surgery, how will you live? Who will pay for the $40,000.00 in surgery bills? Health insurance often delays paying on bills because they were caused by a vehicle crash.
Uninsured motorist coverage will help, and it is important to help you and your loved ones who are hurt by a careless driver.
Why do you need Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage at the same amount as your bodily injury liability coverage?
Stacked uninsured motorist coverage for your vehicle in an amount equal to your bodily injury coverage is important.
Insurance agents may tell you that you do not need this coverage even if it is inexpensive. If they do, ask if they are working for you or working for the insurance company.
Insurance agents may tell you that you do not need uninsured motorist coverage, or that you do not need much of it. Why would you protect other people more than you protect yourself? Why would you have more bodily injury liability coverage than uninsured motorist coverage?
The insurance company may want you to have less uninsured motorist coverage so the insurance companies can save itself money.
It is more likely that a careful driver will be a victim of a bad driver. Hence, the insurance companies may be happy to sell you bodily injury liability coverage, which you may never use, because you may never cause a crash. But, they may be hesitant to sell uninsured motorist coverage because you are more likely to be a victim and need reimbursement because there is no bodily injury insurance requirement in the state of Florida.
In summary, insurance companies may want you to buy uninsured motorist coverage but they do not want you to buy much because the premium for good coverage is not much more and the insurance company is more likely to have to pay a claim.
In our opinion, your uninsured motorist coverage should be “stacking” and in an amount equal to your bodily injury liability coverage.
Stacking coverage increases in amount for each vehicle you insure. This option is usually not much more in premium charges and can dramatically increase your coverage. Stacking also protects your relatives that live with you and you if you are on a motorcycle or in someone else’s motor vehicle that is not insured with uninsured motorist coverage. For example, let us say you are going with your friends to the beach and you are a passenger. You are then involved in a bad crash; if the driver who caused the crash did not have bodily injury coverage, and your friend who was driving her vehicle does not have uninsured motorist coverage, you would be protected if you purchased stacking uninsured motorist coverage, even though you are not in your car.
Howell & Thornhill, P.A., wants you to ask, does my insurance company act to protect my family and my health? If your insurance agent tries to sell you non stacking uninsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage less than the amount of your bodily injury liability coverage, then ask if they are working for you or working for the insurance company.
Do you need a lawyer?
Insurance companies are a business. In our opinion, their job is to make money for themselves. Not having bodily injury coverage as a requirement in Florida helps insurance companies, and hurts you, or a loved one hurt in a crash. This is why insurance companies fought passing a law that required bodily injury coverage in 2021. You need to ask if you have a claim, is the insurance company going to pay for my losses as they promise in the commercials?
Or, is the company going to avoid my calls, give excuses on what they will pay, and suggest I do not need a lawyer until it is too late to protect myself? A call to Howell & Thornhill, P.A., is free.