We receive this question all of the time in the context of insurance coverage for injuries sustained in car accidents. Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance coverage, or as it is often called “UM coverage“, protects the insurance policyholder when he or she is involved in an accident with someone who does not have liability insurance or does not have enough liability insurance to cover your injuries. In other words, the at-fault driver does not have insurance to cover your injuries; therefore, you personally have Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance coverage, or UM coverage, to protect you in this situation.
In Florida, the most common forms of UM benefits cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. UM coverage is an extremely important type of coverage in Florida. When you register your vehicle, the registrant must provide proof of insurance coverage. However, Florida only requires vehicles to carry Personal Injury Protection coverage ($10,000) and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. There is no minimum requirement for bodily injury liability coverage. While drivers are free to increase their insurance coverages from these minimums, the fact that there is no requirement for bodily injury liability coverage in Florida can be a recipe for disaster.
How Does Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Work?
You are a victim of a rear-end collision. The impact was severe and if your car isn’t totaled, it might as well be. You are taken to the local emergency room and treated for your concussion and whiplash injuries. You also have suffered a broken nose from the airbag being deployed because when you were rear-ended, your car struck the car ahead of it. After you have collected your thoughts after the tremendously stressful experience you have just endured, you take solace in the idea that you have $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage on your own vehicle and $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage (“PIP”). However, the $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage does NOT protect you. It protects other injured parties in the event that you were the at fault (liable) driver. Therefore, you are left with your $10,000 in PIP and the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage limits – to the extent they exist. You contact St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas to help you through the insurance maze and they discover that the at-fault driver didn’t have any bodily injury liability coverage. Therefore, you are left only with your own PIP coverage to address all of your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. This scenario can be absolutely devastating both physically and financially.
Unfortunately, this example is all too frequent in car accidents throughout Florida. The example illustrates the importance of UM coverage when insuring vehicles in Florida. Had the injured party in the above scenario carried UM insurance, she would have been able to seek benefits from her own insurance company to cover medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Because the at-fault driver did not carry bodily injury liability insurance, he is considered “uninsured”. This classification would trigger UM benefits if they are carried by the non-liable, injured party.
Sometimes our clients believe they have UM benefits because they have purchased “full coverage”. The term “full coverage” does not mean that UM coverage is included. In fact, “full coverage” is not really a coverage that exists. It is a term that refers to a combination of coverages such as PIP, property damage liability coverage and comprehensive coverage (covers property damage that is not a result of an accident). The important lesson here is that UM coverage is typically not included in the bundle of coverages typically associated with this misnomer. So if you believe you have “full coverage”, double check your insurance coverages to determine what is actually included in your “full coverage” policy.
While insurance rates are constantly increasing, it is imperative in Florida to carry UM insurance. This will protect you and your family in the event that you are injured in a car accident that was not your fault. Don’t let other negligent drivers dictate whether you and your family are protected. Consider adding UM coverage to your automobile insurance policy.
If you or anyone you know have questions about UM insurance and what coverages you currently have, please feel free to contact our offices for a free explanation of the benefits you have and any gaps in coverage which may exist.
Contact an Insurance Attorney
If you or a loved one been injured in an auto accident, then you should take the proper measures to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas today and speak with an attorney. For over 60 years our firm has been successfully helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s carelessness. We have been nationally ranked for decades by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 law firm, which is the highest ranking that can be received. Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas have dedicated their careers to continuing the firms legacy of superior legal representation.
Remember that we never charge a fee, unless we win. Call us today at 727-381-2300 so that we may answer your questions, help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, and recover the compensation that you deserve.
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St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas
5858 Central Ave suite a
St. Petersburg, FL 33707