What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, and do you need it?
Simply put, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (also known as “UM coverage”) is the most important coverage that a person can have on their automobile insurance policy. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is the most important coverage because it covers you and your resident relatives (family members who reside in your household) in case you are injured and other driver (a) causes the accident and (b) does not have enough (or any) Bodily Injury coverage for your or your resident relative’s injuries.
If you or your resident relative is injured in a motor vehicle accident that is caused by another driver and that other driver (a) is either totally without Bodily Injury coverage which would cover your injuries and losses or (b) has some Bodily Injury Coverage but not enough to cover your injuries and losses, the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage on your automobile insurance policy steps in and covers the losses.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to keep insurance premiums lower, too many automobile insurance brokers and insurance companies tell their customers that Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is not necessary. Some people feel like they cannot afford this type of coverage because it is a little bit extra. But the reality is most people cannot afford to not have it.
Unfortunately, I have seen hundreds of cases where someone was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident and they were lacking Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage that would have compensated them for their injuries. Often, if the opposing driver does not have the correct insurance and there is no UM coverage, an injured party will not be able to find a personal injury attorney to take their case at all. If there is no Bodily Injury Coverage or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage many Personal Injury attorneys will not take the case because there is no insurance anywhere in the case.
What does UM cover?
The role of the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage insurance carrier is to “step in the shoes” of the driver who caused the accident. That means your insurance carrier provides coverage for economic and non-economic damages in a lawsuit stemming from a motor vehicle accident as if the driver who caused the accident had the correct coverage.
Economic Damages from a motor vehicle accident are typically related to medical bills and lost wages, both past and future, that an injured party incurs from the accident. Non-economic damages stem from pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, inconvenience, mental anguish, etc. from the accident.
Without UM Coverage, you are at the mercy of the coverages previously obtained by the opposing driver who caused the accident. In South Florida, that is not a bet worth making. Would you trust your health insurance and disability insurance to a stranger? I doubt it. Do not make that mistake with your automobile insurance policy.
UM Is Not A Required Coverage to be Sold in Florida
Amazingly, UM Coverage is not required to be sold on automobile insurance policies in Florida. As previously discussed in this space, the only coverage required by law to be included in every automobile insurance policy sold in Florida is Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”). That means that Bodily Injury Coverage (which insures drivers when they cause accidents) is also not required to be sold.
There are millions of drivers in Florida with the bare minimum meaning leaving millions of injured drivers without insurance for their injuries and losses.
What is “Stacking Coverage?”
By Florida law, the amount of UM Coverage cannot outnumber the amount of Bodily Injury Coverage unless you have something called “Stacking” UM Coverage. If you have an automobile insurance policy that includes multiple vehicles, you can purchase additional Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage known as Stacking Coverage. That means for a small additional fee, you can have a multiplier in the amount of UM Coverage you have on your policy.
The multiplier is contingent on the number of vehicles that are on the automobile policy. For example, if you have three vehicles on a policy with UM Coverage limits of $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident but you choose to purchase “Stacking” UM Coverage, you would then actually have UM Coverage of $300,000 per person and $900,000 per accident.
Defendant At Trial
If you were ever to get to trial in a case for UM benefits, the named Defendant in the case is the actual insurance company (as opposed to the individual who caused the accident if you were going after that person’s insurance). Having an insurance company as the named Defendant is a huge advantage as the jury will know that any money awarded to the injured party will be coming directly from an insurance company and not an ordinary citizen (although those citizens are almost always covered by insurance as well).
Trust Your Case to JB Law, P.A.
I have tried countless cases involving motor vehicle accidents against all of the major insurance carriers. Do not trust your personal injury case to a firm that does not actively litigate and try cases. Do not fall victim to one of the advertising firms where you will get lost in the shuffle and just become a number in a file cabinet. At JB Law, all clients are given the attention they deserve and are provided with my personal cell phone. It is not my “work” cell phone. It is my only cell phone. My clients can always reach me and always know what is going on with their case.