Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage & Motorcycle Accidents
Florida law requires drivers to carry liability insurance, as well as personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that will provide compensation to each insured for his or her own injuries under the no-fault system, up to the policy limits. It’s only after those PIP limits have been exhausted that injured drivers can seek further compensation from the at-fault driver in a crash.
However, there are two things motorcyclists need to know about these requirements:
- The PIP coverage requirement is only applicable to those operating vehicles with four wheels or more;
- Florida has the one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country, with approximately 1 in 4 drivers lacking insurance. Many more lack sufficient insurance to fully cover damage they inflict on others by driving negligently.
This is why the Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm strongly encourage all motorcyclists to purchase PIP coverage, as well as uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage.
Although UM/UIM isn’t required of motorists in Florida, riders on two wheels tend to suffer more severe injuries than those in larger vehicles. It’s important for motorcyclists to make sure they won’t have to struggle to pay medical bills and other expenses – especially for a crash that was not their fault.
The goal of our injury attorneys is always to maximize the compensation our clients receive in the wake of a horrible accident. Up-to-date insurance policies help to prepare motorcyclists for such contingencies.What is Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Neither UM/ UIM coverage is required for motorcyclists or other drivers in Florida. But it’s a very smart idea to have it. Here’s why:
- Uninsured motorist coverage: Exists to protect drivers involved in accidents with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry the required liability insurance.
- Underinsured motorist coverage: Is available to those injured as a result of negligence by another driver whose liability insurance limits are too low to fully cover the damage or medical expenses.
Even though drivers aren’t mandated to carry it, F.S. 627.727 does require insurance companies offer UM/UIM coverage. Policyholders have the option of rejecting such coverage, but such declination must be express and in writing. The language of the policy has to state something to the effect of:
“You are electing not to purchase certain valuable coverage which protects you and your family OR you are purchasing uninsured motorist limits less than your bodily injury liability limits when you sign this form. Please read carefully.”
Florida has a major problem with uninsured drivers. In addition to drivers who simply never bother to purchase coverage, there is also an ongoing issue with insurance fraud, in which drivers purchase phony insurance cards, which allows them to obtain registration fictitiously.
There are also many drivers who simply can’t afford to purchase more than bare minimum coverage. On average, yearly auto insurance rates cost $1,500 – and that’s if you have a decent driving record. Many people can’t afford it.
Fully 25 percent of drivers in Florida don’t have insurance at all, compared to New York State, in which just 5 percent of drivers are uninsured.
But the cost of NOT having uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage can be far more costly if you’re ever involved in a crash, as our Fort Lauderdale lawyers can explain.
If an injured driver is involved in a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver, there is the option to pursue action against the at-fault driver personally. But if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough money to buy the proper insurance, it’s unlikely he or she has enough assets to cover a court-ordered liability judgment.
UM coverage is also sometimes the sole source of recovery in accidents caused by a hit-and-run driver. Florida has one of the highest rates of hit-and-run accidents in the country, according to a report by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In fact, 25 percent of ALL crashes in Florida are hit-and-run crashes. It’s against the law and can result in felony charges if the driver is caught. However, a big part of the reason many at-fault drivers flee is because they don’t have insurance in the first place.
By purchasing UM/ UIM coverage, motorcyclists can ensure their major expenses will be covered in the event of a crash that wasn’t their fault.Other Types of Insurance
In addition to understanding the value of UM/UIM coverage, motorcyclists need to educate themselves on other forms of insurance, both required an option. From an injury law standpoint, this first of all helps shield motorcyclists from personal liability if they cause a crash that injures someone else, such as a passenger.
Among the other types of insurance that our Fort Lauderdale lawyers suggest that you consider are:
- Bodily Injury. This covers damage if the policy holder causes an accident that involves death or injury to others. It helps to pay others’ medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and wrongful death.
- Property Damage. Covers property damage caused by a policy holder’s negligence in an auto accident.
- Medical Payments. Will cover costs of medical expense to you or a passenger while riding a motorcycle. Most coverage options offer a $10,000 maximum.
- Comprehensive. May cover damage to the motorcycle caused by vandalism, theft, severe weather, contact with animals, fire or flood.
- Gap Coverage. This is beneficial if you owe more on your motorcycle than it’s worth. If the bike is “totaled,” the coverage will pay the difference between what is owed and what your vehicle is worth.
If you are involved in a serious motorcycle crash, recognize that insurance companies dispatch investigators right away to examine the facts and dig up evidence that could help reduce your payout. It’s imperative that you seek immediate legal representation to help bolster your case and maximize your chance of a fair settlement or judgment.If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident, contact the attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8