What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? (& Why Do I Need It?)

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An estimated 1 in 4 Florida drivers do not have auto insurance. That’s too many!

But with Uninsured Motorist coverage, you don’t have to pay the price for their mistakes.

 

A hidden danger awaits those who come to Florida. And no, it’s not hurricanes.

It’s underinsured drivers.

According to recent estimates, about 1 in 6 Florida drivers (15%, to be precise) don’t have any insurance. If that sounds high, that’s because it is. The Sunshine State has one of the highest numbers of uninsured drivers in the country.

But an accident with an uninsured driver isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. You also need to worry about the drivers who don’t carry any more coverage than what is required by law.

In this article, we’ll cover why Florida’s insurance minimums aren’t good enough and how you can protect yourself with Uninsured Motorist Coverage.

Why FL’s State Minimums Aren’t Good Enough

Here in the State of Florida, you must provide proof of insurance coverage before you even register your vehicle. You must carry a MINIMUM of:

$10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and
$10,000 of Property Damage Liability (PDL).

That’s it.

$10,000 may sound like a lot of money, but it’s rarely enough to pay for an auto accident.

Take Property Damage Liability coverage for example, which is designed to provide coverage for the damage you may cause to other people’s property. That $10,000 limit might be enough if you hit a bicycle, but what if you total a brand-new Audi?

Yup. You’re on the hook for the rest. They’ll even garnish your wages if they have to.

And when it comes to Personal Injury Protection, the scenario gets even worse. If the accident is bad enough to total a car, it’s bad enough to severely injure its passengers as well. How far do you think that $10,000 will go if you need to be taken to the hospital?

What’s even more frightening is that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers the person who buys it. It does not cover the person they hurt—YOU! Yep. You can be legal on the road in Florida with ZERO coverage for third-parties you might physically hurt in an accident.

Florida’s minimum auto insurance requirements are simply not enough protection for you and your family. But so many people stick with them just to save a few bucks every month.

“But, Jason,” I can hear you saying. “I’m a responsible driver. I know better than that.”

That might be true, but what about everyone else on the road? You don’t get to choose which car you hit (or which cars hit you); it just happens. Fortunately, there’s a way to protect yourself against uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Enter: Uninsured Motorist coverage.

 

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)?

It might not be required by Florida law (yet!), but Uninsured Motorist coverage is essential nonetheless.

Uninsured Motorist coverage is designed to cover injuries (both to you and your passengers) caused by:

a third party who didn’t have insurance (or hit-and-run drivers)
an at-fault driver who may have had insurance, but didn’t have enough to cover your injuries—like those who have only PIP and Property Damage!

Florida drivers aren’t required to purchase uninsured motorist coverage but all car insurance companies are required to offer it. If you opt out of UM coverage, you must do so in writing (it’s important to read all paperwork when it comes to insurance). In most cases, however, your insurance agent probably won’t caution you against the dangers of driving around without this coverage.

It can be expensive. At Harry Levine Insurance, coverage comes first, though we always respect your budget.

Going without any insurance in the state of Florida is illegal. But, as we all know, the reason we have laws is because people do things they shouldn’t.

If a Florida driver is caught driving without insurance, they’ll probably get a suspended license. But if their accident broke your leg or gave you whiplash, that’s a case of locking the barn door after the horse has already bolted.

In other words: It punishes them, but it doesn’t pay your medical expenses!

How To Purchase Uninsured Motorist Insurance

There are two types of UM coverage in Florida: stacked and unstacked.

Stacked Uninsured Motorist insurance is available for an additional premium. Stacking insurance allows you to combine coverage limits, giving you more protection if you are hit by an uninsured driver. If you have a $100,000 Uninsured Motorist coverage limit and 2 cars, you could collect up to $200,000 after an accident to which the coverage applied. Even if you only have own one car this coverage cab be invaluable. If you’re in a “replacement private passenger vehicle” like a rental car while on vacation, that vehicle is considered your second car and stacking would apply if you’ve selected it.

Let’s say you purchase a single policy to cover two cars—yours and your spouse’s. Your UM policy has a coverage limit of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. With an unstacked policy, these numbers would be your coverage limit. But with a stacked policy, you can stack the coverage limit of one car on top of the other one, giving you a new coverage limit of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

In Florida, UM coverage is either stacked or unstacked and you must specify which you want. It’s also important to note that stacked coverage generally has higher premiums, so this is something you should consider carefully after discussing it with your independent insurance agent.

Car Accidents Are Expensive!

Here’s an example of how Uninsured Motorist Coverage works.

Say you’re driving home from work one day and you get hit by another driver who admitted that he “just didn’t see you.” You drive your (dented) car away from the accident but, that night, your back starts to hurt. When you go to the doctor the next day, he discovers that you ruptured a disc in your back and will need regular care for the foreseeable future.

The other driver was found to be at-fault, but Florida is a “No-Fault” state, so you turn to your own PIP policy for coverage. Eight months later, you’ve spent a total of $12,000…and your back still isn’t completely healed. What’s worse: you’ve hit your coverage limit, so all other expenses will come out of your own pocket.

Normally, this is the time when you would approach the at-fault driver (more appropriately, their insurance company) and say, “Hey, this accident was your fault. My insurance company has done all they can do for me. It’s your turn to cough up the rest.”

That’s when the other shoe drops. Not only does the other driver not have auto insurance, they’re bankrupt and can’t give you a single penny.

This is only a mild example of the kind of situation that happens all the time throughout the country. A more extreme case might have you suffering severe injuries that require hospitalization, rehabilitation, surgery, and long-term care.

Remember, you don’t get to choose which cars you collide with on the road or how severely you and the passengers in your vehicle are injured. But with Uninsured Motorist coverage, you have another option if at at-fault third party is unable to cover your injuries.

 

Be Prepared

In the midst of a hard insurance market, it’s very likely that Florida drivers will continue to slash their auto insurance policies in an effort to save money. And unfortunately, you can’t rely on your safe driving skills to prevent you from ever getting into an accident.

Intoxicated, unsafe, unlicensed, inexperienced, and uninsured drivers are on Central Florida roads as we speak. It’s only a matter of time before you tangle with one of them.

Accidents and injuries are expensive, but the surest way to prepare yourself against financial catastrophe after an auto accident is by carrying the right insurance policies.

Don’t point fingers at all the other underinsured motorists if you’re one yourself!

Uninsured Motorist coverage is essential for Florida drivers, but it’s not the only way you can protect yourself. Talk to your independent insurance agent about the cost of adding an endorsement or raising your limits to provide you with the best level of protection for your budget and—more importantly—your risk profile.

At Harry Levine Insurance, we find Uninsured Motorist coverage to be so important that we expressly caution every client against going without it.

Our philosophy is: don’t shop for insurance based on price, go with the policies that provide the best coverage and won’t let you down in the event of an auto accident.

Want to get started? Get a quote on our website. We’re excited to meet you!

The post What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? (& Why Do I Need It?) appeared first on Harry Levine Insurance.

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