Over the course of a typical driver’s lifetime, they can expect to be involved in four automobile accidents on average. While this number may seem small, there’s no way to predict just how severe any one of those accidents may be. If you become severely injured or your car suffers extensive damage, it can be life altering.
Even though Florida requires all its drivers to carry a minimum level of standard car insurance, our state still ranks as number two in the nation for the highest portion of uninsured drivers—around 24%. This means that about one in four drivers on Florida roads do not have any car insurance. So if you’re involved in an accident with one of these drivers and the resulting damages are more severe than your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will compensate you for, you could be left paying extensive medical expenses and repairs out of your own pocket. This is when it pays to have uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) coverage.
What is UM Coverage?
Florida law mandates all drivers carry a minimal amount of car insurance coverage, but it does not require drivers to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is the type of coverage that helps pay for the other driver’s property and medical injuries if you are found at fault for an accident. What that means is, if you are involved with a driver who does not carry enough insurance to cover your expenses beyond your PIP insurance, you are left to figure out the bills on your own. UM coverage aims to avoid that situation from happening. It can make all the difference between financial security and financial ruin after you suffer a severe car crash. UM coverage functions much like bodily injury car insurance coverage does. It will provide coverage to the policy holder when it has been deemed that damage was caused by the negligence of a driver who was behind the wheel without any car insurance. It can even kick in when the negligent driver is insured, but their policy may be insufficient to cover all the damages resulting from the harm they caused. UM coverage can then be used to pay for things like:
- Medical expenses accrued from the accident
- Lost wages suffered after the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of future earning potential
Is UM Coverage Right for You?
Again, Florida does not require its drivers to carry UM coverage. For this reason, many people opt out of adding it to their car insurance plans in order to save on some extra monthly or yearly costs. But it’s often discovered too late just how worth it paying a little extra for UM coverage each month can be, especially when comparing it to the back-end possibilities.Car accidents can result in devastating bodily damage like brain injuries, spine injuries, and more. Treating these types of injuries can cause your medical bills to climb to hundreds of thousands of dollars quickly. And if these injuries affect your ability to work, you may also miss out on the wages you need to support yourself and your family. Because PIP coverage caps out at $10,000, it can often be insufficient for addressing these types of costly damages. You may have the ability to sue the driver of the other vehicle if this is the case, but there’s never any guarantee you will be granted all the compensation you need to adequately take care of yourself.
The cost of adding UM coverage to your plan is small compared to the potentially large bills and lost earnings that often accompany severe auto accidents. Your insurance company is required to offer it to you when you sign up for your insurance plan, and it’s recommended you take advantage of something called “stacking” your UM coverage.
As the policyholder, you can stack your coverage based on the number of vehicles under your policy. For example, if you purchase a $100,000 UM policy, but have three vehicles on your policy, you can stack your coverage so that you actually have $300,000 in coverage. The amount of coverage is multiplied by the number of cars under your policy without necessarily increasing the cost of that portion of your policy to match. This makes UM coverage a worthwhile addition to consider, but of course, you should thoroughly review your options with your insurance provider.
What to Do After an Accident With an Uninsured Driver
No matter how cautious or responsible a driver you may be, you cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road. Accidents do happen. And you certainly can’t control whether or not other drivers will have the appropriate coverage they need after they cause an accident. So if and when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, there are certain key steps to take to make sure you utilize your UM coverage to its fullest.
First, as always, make sure you seek the medical attention you need after suffering injuries. Call emergency services as needed and have your injuries thoroughly treated. If you are able, gather necessary information from the other driver. Even if you think your PIP coverage might be sufficient in your situation, it’s always in your best interest to gather the other driver’s information—you can’t predict what the future may hold. Collect their name, contact information, insurance information (if applicable), and vehicle information. Take photos of the accident, including damage to your vehicle, damage to their vehicle, the location of the accident, and any other influential factors, like road conditions.
The next step is dealing with insurance companies, and this can be one of the most difficult steps of all. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with successfully when it comes to providing you with all the compensation you need. This is especially true when you are attempting to claim that the driver who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured. They are going to require hard proof of this fact, and if you were unable to gather the evidence to prove it, you will need a personal injury attorney to help you with your claim.
The Whisler Law Firm has years of experience helping clients gather the evidence they need in order to make their case with their insurance company. We also know how to intervene on your behalf, work with your insurance adjuster, and present the evidence needed to convince them to provide you with the compensation you deserve. Adding UM coverage to your auto insurance plan is just the first step—the second step is making sure it pays out the way it should. If you’ve suffered a car accident, don’t take that second step alone. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or request a free consultation with our team so we can review your policy and your case.