It may shock you to know that Florida has the fifth highest rate of uninsured drivers in the whole country (see article http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/jan/22/florida-has-more-uninsured-drivers-most-states). Nearly a quarter of Florida drivers do not have auto insurance. This means, that if they cause an accident due to automobile negligence, there is no coverage available for injured parties to pursue. What can you do to protect yourself?
Your first line of defense is to ensure that you have an active auto insurance policy with the state required $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. This coverage will ensure that at 80% of your medical bills will be covered. However, what happens when the person who causes the accident has no insurance or no Bodily Injury Coverage? Is there anyway you can recover for the remaining 20% of your bills? How about money for pain and suffering? How about lost wages and future medical expenses?
One of the best ways that you can protect yourself is to elect Uninsured Motorist Coverage or (UM) through your own insurance company. UM is elective coverage that allows the victim of an auto-accident to receive compensation, if they are injured by an uninsured vehicle that caused the accident through automobile negligence.
How does UM work? UM is a contractual agreement between an insurance company and their insured. According to most policies, the UM carrier will compensate for injuries, pain, suffering and mental anguish caused by an uninsured driver. However, UM compensation is not automatic! You must still prove that the accident was caused by another party due to negligence and that you have sustained a permanent injury according to the Florida No-fault Laws. Often times, UM carriers fight just as hard, if not harder to minimize the amount of compensation you receive.
How is UM Coverage offered? UM Coverage is offered similar to Bodily-Injury Coverage, in a limit per person and per accident. For instance a $10,000/$20,000 UM policy means that the UM carrier will compensate injured persons up to $10,000 per person or $20,000 per accident for all injured parties involved. UM coverage is normally available as such:
If I don’t have UM on my policy, can I qualify for it on someone else’s policy? Even if you don’t have UM on your policy, you may qualify under another policy. If you are a passenger, you may qualify to use the host vehicle or host driver’s UM Policy. You may also qualify under a resident relative. Bottom line is that there are many ways to qualify depending on your independent circumstances and the language of the policy. It is important that you contact an experienced attorney who can review all of your option and explain if you can qualify for UM.
Is UM only available if the at-fault driver is uninsured? NO. Most UM policies also operate as Underinsured Motorist Coverage. If you are injured by an at-fault driver due to automobile negligence, and that driver’s Bodily Injury Coverage cannot adequately compensate you for your loss, you may be able to recover from a UM policy.
How do I find out if I qualify for a UM Claim? Call the law office of Dan Newlin & Partners at (407) 888-8000: Underinsured Motorist coverage is one of the more intricate working parts in the auto insurance industry. It is coverage that insurance companies do not regularly advertise to their customers. Most people don’t realize that bringing a UM claim against your insurance company will not affect your rates. It is coverage that you as a customer pay a premium for, and therefore are entitled to. When you contact my office, we will meet with you personally, at no charge, to go through every aspect of your insurance policy. As a courtesy we offer to our clients a comprehensive review of your policy and recommendations on how to better protect yourself. Call today to find out if you qualify for an Uninsured Motorist Claim.