Uninsured Motorist Insurance In Florida: Are You “Fully Covered?”
If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: I am fully covered. Fully covered means different things to different people. In cases involving automobile accidents with personal injury, unless you carry uninsured motorist coverage, you are NOT fully covered. In the State of Florida, regarding personal injury claims, drivers are only required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or “no-fault” insurance. PIP is insurance coverage provided by your own insurance company designed to pay for your own medical expenses and, in some cases lost wages. Florida Law requires this coverage up to $10,000.00 dollars. In other words, you are driving down the road and another driver runs a red light and hits your car injuring you. You then end up with permanent injuries and medical bills in excess of $100,000.00. Florida Law only requires that each driver have coverage from their own insurance company to pay for their own medical bills up to $10,000.00, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Florida Law does not require drivers to carry liability insurance (bodily injury insurance) to cover claims of persons injured in an automobile accident as a result of the driver’s negligence. So when you are purchasing automobile insurance in Florida, you are only required to get the PIP coverage. The agent may tell you that you are “fully covered” because you have complied with Florida Law. But nothing can be further from the truth.
Uninsured motorist coverage is very important. In order to understand the importance of uninsured motorist coverage, let’s distinguish it from bodily injury coverage. It is again important to keep in mind that neither uninsured motorist coverage; nor bodily injury coverage are required under Florida Law. Bodily injury insurance provides coverage to you from claims made by others that you have caused injury to as a result of your negligence in an automobile accident. For example, you are the driver that runs a red light and hits another automobile injuring its occupants. Bodily injury insurance will cover you in the event that the occupants sue you seeking money damages for injuries they suffered in the accident. This is also very important insurance coverage to have especially to protect assets that you may have accumulated over the years. But what happens if you are driving down the road minding your own business and someone else runs a red light and hits your automobile and injures you and you end up with permanent injures and over $100,000.00 in outstanding medical bills? Guess what? That other negligent driver, like you, is only required to carry PIP coverage. He does not have to have bodily injury insurance so that you can make a claim against his insurance company for your permanent injuries and $100,000.00 in outstanding medical bills. In other words, if that negligent driver does not have enough assets to cover your medical bills; you are out of luck. The negligent driver has complied with the law. Do you feel “fully covered” now? That’s why uninsured motorist coverage is so important for the consumer to have.
You can purchase uninsured motorist coverage from your own company to provide insurance in the event that you sustain bodily injuries caused by another negligent motorist who does not carry any bodily injury insurance, or who does not carry enough bodily injury insurance to cover your damages from an accident. So in the example above, by having uninsured motorist insurance, you can make a claim against your own company to cover you for damages resulting from the negligence of other uninsured or under insured drivers. Moreover, the additional cost of this insurance is well worth the benefits that it provides. I urge you to review your automobile insurance policy to make sure that you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage. You should not consider yourself “fully covered” until you do.