Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida
For those injured in an automobile accident in Florida, there are a lot of terms to know – subrogation, no-fault, uninsured/underinsured. If you are injured in a car accident near Tampa Bay, here are just a few things you should know about your auto insurance.
Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You may have heard conflicting views on uninsured motorist coverage. Some think it is a waste of money, while others pay for huge policies. But many people simply do not understand how this sort of coverage works.
Florida has the second highest number of uninsured motorist in the entire country. What a dubious distinction! With nearly 24 percent of Florida drivers cruising around without insurance, it is no wonder our insurance premiums continue to escalate. But what is worse than a high premium? How about getting hit by one of these uninsured drivers? Uninsured (including underinsured) motorist coverage (UIM) ensures that if someone with insufficient coverage hits you, your own insurance company will take care of it.
Florida law only requires drivers to carry a minimum liability limit of $10,000 personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage coverage. Think about the last time you saw a late model car sell for less than $10,000. If a motorist carries the minimum coverage, totaling a well-used family sedan could exceed the amount available to replace the car. Likewise, is $10,000 going to cover a trip to the emergency room, should the accident cause significant injuries or require a surgery? The short answer is no.
One big limitation of UIM
UIM does have its limits. Many injured drivers are shocked to learn that their insurance recovery is less than expected due to the amount of liability coverage they carry on their own policy. This is because UIM coverage only covers up to the amount of liability coverage you carry. So, for instance, if you carry a $100,000/$300,000 personal injury protection policy and carry UIM, it means you have enough coverage to pay for up to $100,000 in injuries per person up to $300,000 per accident. This ensures you are adequately covered for multiple injured parties. It also means you are protected up to that amount if someone else hits you but does not have adequate insurance.
Now let us assume a driver with a minimum liability policy of $10,000 hits you. If you manage to collect their entire policy – $10,000 – yet your injuries are valued at well over $100,000, common sense would say you could collect $100,000 from your own insurer. However, this is not true. You could only collect $90,000. This is because almost all policies are set up to limit you to collecting the total of your own policy.
Florida’s no-fault law
In addition to the challenges of UIM coverage, Florida is one of a handful of “no-fault” states, which means when two people have an accident, they simply report it to their own insurers to be paid. The law disregards fault and simply allows drivers to be paid by their own insurers. This also contributes to the high cost of premiums in the state.
Hiring an attorney to help with your accident
If you are like a lot of people, you may wonder why you should hire a personal injury attorney if your insurance company is going to pay for the accident regardless of fault. The answer is simple – insurance companies do everything they can to get out of paying or to pay as little as possible. Every year, thousands of bad faith lawsuits are filed across America. These lawsuits are filed because insurance companies violate their own contracts with drivers by refusing to pay on valid claims or because they undercut the driver by paying far less than they should. Likewise, even in no-fault states, if you are seriously or permanently injured, you may need to seek compensation from the other driver’s policy in order to receive just compensation.
If you or someone you love is injured in an automobile accident in Bradenton or throughout the Tampa Bay area, contact an aggressive accident lawyer at the Romero Law Firm who can help you understand your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. We are happy to help you with your case today.