Why Is Uninsured/UnderInsured Motorist Coverage Important?


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No one wants to be in an automobile crash.

However, automobile crashes happen quite frequently.

In fact, in 2017 alone, approximately 400,000 automobile crashes occurred in Florida.

Of those 400,000 crashes, approximately 166,000 resulted in an injury, with a total of 253,000 injuries.

Thus, automobile drivers in Florida must be prepared in case they are in the unfortunate situation of being in an automobile crash.

One very important way to be prepared is to be adequately insured.

Generally, under Florida law, the only insurance that is required when driving an automobile is $10,000.00 in personal injury protection (“PIP”) and $10,000.00 in property damage liability (“PD”).

What this means is that if you are in an automobile crash in Florida, automobile drivers and automobile owners are not required to have bodily injury liability insurance coverage (“BI”).

In 2015, Florida had the highest percentage of uninsured automobile drivers in the United States at 26.7%!

This number does not take into account the number of Florida drivers with the minimal required insurance but with no bodily injury liability insurance coverage.

Therefore, if an automobile crash occurs that you are involved in, but not responsible for, there may be no coverage (other than your PIP) to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.

This is where uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM/UIM”) insurance coverage comes into play and why it is so important to have it in your policy.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Pursuant to the Florida Statutes, every motor vehicle that provides bodily injury coverage in Florida must provide for the same amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, unless the person insured by the policy makes a specific rejection or alternate selection on a form that complies with the Florida Statutes.

Unlike other states, in Florida, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is combined and considered one type of coverage.

On one hand, uninsured motorist coverage applies when you are involved in an automobile crash and the responsible (at-fault) party does not have any bodily injury liability insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries.

If this happens, and you have UM/UIM coverage, you can pursue a claim against your insurance company through your UM/UIM coverage for potential damages such as your injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

For example, Driver A causes an automobile crash in which you are injured.

Driver A does not have bodily injury liability coverage to compensate you for your injuries.

If you have UM/UIM coverage, you can make a claim against your insurance policy through your UM/UIM coverage for your potential damages.

On the other hand, underinsured motorist coverage applies when you are involved in an automobile crash and the responsible (at-fault) party does not have enough bodily injury liability insurance coverage to adequately compensate you for your injuries.

For example, Driver A causes an automobile crash in which you are injured.

Driver A has bodily injury liability coverage of $10,000.00.

However, your injuries well exceed Driver A’s $10,000.00 bodily injury policy limits and Driver A’s insurance company tenders $10,000.00 dollars for your injuries.

If you have UM/UIM coverage, you can make a claim against your insurance policy through your UM/UIM coverage for your potential damages in excess of Driver A’s $10,000.00 policy limits.

Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Considered “First Party” or “Third Party”

Uninsured/underinsured motorist is considered “first party” insurance coverage, which means that the policy insures you, the person for whom the policy is written, for certain potential damages if you are involved in an automobile crash.

In the context of automobile insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist “first party” coverage compensates you for your damages if you are involved in an automobile crash and one of the above scenarios occurs.

This is different from bodily injury liability coverage, which is considered “third party” coverage, because it insures against liability of yourself for certain potential damages if you cause an automobile crash.

In the context of automobile insurance, “third party” coverage compensates other parties for their damages if you are the responsible party in an automobile crash.

What Are My UM/UIM Coverage Options?

Under the Florida Statutes, if you do not have bodily injury liability insurance coverage, you cannot purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

However, if you have bodily injury liability insurance coverage, you can either:

  1. Reject uninsured/underinsured motorist completely; or
  2. Select uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage at or below your bodily injury policy limits.

If you have bodily injury liability insurance coverage, this uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage rejection or selection must be signed by an insured on behalf of all insured parties on a Florida Statutes approved form.

As an example of what the approved form should contain, under section 627.727(1), Florida Statutes, the top of the rejection selection form must state, “You are electing not to purchase certain valuable coverage which protects you and your family or you are purchasing uninsured motorist limits less than your bodily injury liability limits when you sign this form. Please read carefully.”

If you have bodily injury liability coverage, but no uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and your insurance company does not have a valid UM/UIM rejection/selection form, you may be entitled to UM/UIM coverage in the amount of your bodily injury liability insurance coverage.

Can I Pursue a Claim Against an Individual Without Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

Yes, however, claims against individuals without insurance coverage are generally very difficult to resolve without a costly lawsuit.

Even if you obtain a judgment against the responsible party, judgments against individuals are also very difficult to collect on. Thus, UM/UIM coverage is very important to have, especially in Florida.

How Can Shiner Law Group Help You?

The attorneys at Shiner Law Group handle bodily injury and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims on a daily basis and know the “ins and outs” of these claims.

The above description is just an overview of the potentially complicated process involved between pursuing bodily injury coverage, should it exist, and then pursuing a claim against your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

The attorneys at Shiner Law Group can navigate that process for you and fight on your behalf to seek the justice You Deserve.