You deserve more than the minimum after a car accident
Drivers are only required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability and a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury insurance coverage in order to operate a motor vehicle here in Florida. To make matters worse, some drivers don’t even bother to have that coverage. In a serious accident, that amount may not even cover your medical bills. When you add in the income you could lose during your recovery and other damages, this amount is woefully inadequate.
That’s why insurance companies offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You might think your insurance company is simply trying to jack up your rates, but in reality, this coverage could save you from potential financial ruin after a collision.
What types of coverage should I get?
To answer this question, you may wish to weigh your risks against the benefits of coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is generally divided into three categories:
- Underinsured motorist: Also called UIM, this coverage pays for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering above and beyond the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. It ordinarily covers you and your family members whether in a vehicle on your insurance or not. It also covers passengers unrelated to you who suffer injuries while in an accident in a vehicle you own.
- Uninsured motorist — bodily injury: UMBI covers the same losses as UIM. The difference, of course, is that it must cover all expenses, not just in those in excess of another driver’s coverage.
- Uninsured motorist — property damage: Also called, UMPD, this uninsured motorist coverage is not available in all states. In most cases, it will cover your deductible under your regular collision coverage, which might not make it cost effective for you.
Since UMPD is not available here in Florida, you will certainly want to carry enough collision coverage to repair or replace your vehicle.
Is UM/UIM really necessary?
In 2012 alone, approximately 23.8 percent of drivers here in Florida had no auto insurance at all, according to the Insurance Research Council. That means that nearly one of every four drivers on the road does not even carry the minimum amount of insurance required by the state. Therefore, you have a one in four chance of footing the entire bill for your damages — even if you weren’t at fault. Your insurance company can inform you about the limits you can carry, but as a guideline, many recommend carrying the same amount of UM/UIM coverage as your other policy limits.
What if I discover that the other driver is uninsured or underinsured?
Anytime you are involved in an accident, you should inform your insurance company. When you discover that the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured, you can make a claim against your UM/UIM coverage. Your claim will more than likely proceed as any other insurance claim, and the same headaches, low settlement offers and other issues could arise.
Therefore, you may consider involving an attorney to help you through the claims process, and you certainly shouldn’t accept any settlement offers without first understanding the extent of your injuries, along with whether you will suffer permanent or long-term effects as a result. An attorney can review the offer and advise you regarding whether you should accept it. In addition, the earlier you involve an attorney, the less time it will take to get up to speed and gather evidence in the event that it becomes necessary to file a personal injury claim.
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