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.