Accidents happen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they happened more than 6.4 million times a year, killing more than 37,000 and injuring more than 2.7 million.
Perhaps just as scary is the fact that nearly 27 percent of Florida drivers have no insurance.
Even drivers who carry the minimum amount of insurance won’t have enough to cover your damages in the event of a serious crash. Although Florida law requires drivers to carry $10,000 in personal protection and $10,000 in property damage coverage, it doesn’t strictly require bodily injury coverage, which is paid to others hurt if you’re negligent in causing a crash. Drivers are required to be responsible for up to $20,000 in bodily injury coverage per crash ($10,000 per person), but having insurance to cover that amount isn’t strictly required.
What this means, as our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, is that smart Florida drivers don’t waive or skimp on their uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits. It one of the best and sometimes the only way you’ll get anything close to full compensation for your injuries after a crash.
Florida UM/UIM Coverage Explained
Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is insurance you carry to cover the risk that another driver will choose not to carry sufficient (or any) insurance. It will also cover you in crashes where you’re a passenger, pedestrian or bicyclist. It will also cover family members who live with you, and it follows you out-of-state if you’re traveling.
UM coverage is paid to those injured when someone is hurt in a crash caused by a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance or who isn’t identified because he/she fled the scene. UIM coverage provides compensation to those injured by drivers who don’t have enough bodily injury liability coverage or personal assets to cover the damages. Either can kick in when crash-related damages exceed the amount covered both in one’s personal injury protection (PIP) plan and what is covered by the negligent driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.
UM/UIM coverage can be used to pay:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Future loss of earning potential
Given that Florida has one of the highest accident rates in the country, plus the odds are more than 1 in 4 that the person with whom you collide won’t have any coverage at all, UM/UIM coverage is essential for anyone driving in Florida. This is true even though UM/UIM coverage isn’t mandatory in Florida. The option does come standard with auto insurance policies issued in the state, and individuals must sign a waiver to turn it down. UM/UIM must be equal to one’s bodily injury liability coverage.
Stacking UM/UIM Benefits
If you choose to purchase UM/UIM benefits, you might be able to take advantage of something known as “stacking.” This is when a policyholder stacks coverage based on the amount of vehicles covered in a policy.
For example, if you opt for $100,000 in UM/UIM benefits and have three vehicles on your policy and the policy allows stacking, then in fact you actually have $300,000 in UM/UIM coverage. The amount of coverage is multiplied by the number of vehicles covered under the policy.
Stacking is also allowed across multiple policies. So for example, let’s say you have two separate UM/UIM policies in your name that cover two separate vehicles. As long as both of those policies are in your name, you should be able to stack that coverage too (unless the policies expressly disallow it).
The trade-off of stacking is paying higher premiums. On the other hand, having coverage limits that are too low will mean you’ll be stuck with the bill for post-accident expenses that exceed your coverage limits.
Don’t assume that collecting UM/UIM benefits will be easy just because it’s your own insurer. Our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys can help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists, Insurance Information Institute
More Blog Entries:
Filing a Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit, Feb. 15, 2020, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog