Now is a good time to review your car insurance and make sure you are fully protected with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. In fact, any time is a good time to do that.
It’s that important.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2011 Florida had an average of 625 crashes a day, and nearly one in four drivers has no car insurance. This statistic, from the Insurance Research Council, is alarming. That’s why getting into a car wreck could lead to financial disaster if you’re not protected with Uninsured Motorist coverage.
Uninsured Motorist coverage acts as a safety net if you get into a serious accident caused by a driver with little or no insurance. It can reimburse your bills caused by the accident, plus disability, lost wages and pain and suffering when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to cover your losses.
We recently represented an architect who was hit by an uninsured driver on his way to a job in Orange Park. Thrown from his motorcycle, he suffered broken bones and required two surgeries. Fortunately, our client had $300,000 in UM coverage. It meant he could pay all his bills and receive compensation for loss of earnings. Without it, he would have faced bankruptcy. Having a Uninsured Motorist policy made all the difference.
Sadly, many car accident victims learn this lesson too late. Too often, we talk with injured drivers victimized by an uninsured (or underinsured) driver, who discover they have no UM coverage. They are always shocked to learn the at-fault drivers cannot be forced to pay for their losses through insurance. That is why I encourage drivers to check their policies and get as much UM coverage as they can afford.
The good news is that Uninsured Motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive. According to the Insurance Information Institute, UM coverage costs between $50 and $200+ for a six month policy, depending on the amount of coverage. Policies range from $5,000/$10,000 limits per person/per accident to $1 million/$1 million per person/per accident. The price difference between the lowest and highest levels of coverage is not that much, especially when you consider the protection you get for the money.
If you drive more than one vehicle, getting stacked UM coverage makes sense; stacking combines the coverages on all your vehicles. For example, a family with two cars — each with $300,000 in UM coverage — would have $600,000 available to them with a stacked policy in a serious accident and injury case.
Remember, having “full coverage” in Florida does not mean you’ll be protected if you’re injured in an accident. The state does not require Uninsured Motorist coverage; it mandates only bare bones coverage or “tag insurance” — what’s legally required to drive. This includes up to $10,000 of personal injury protection for medical expenses/loss of wages regardless of who’s at fault, and $10,000 in property damage liability in case you damage someone else’s property. These basic coverages are just not enough to protect you or your loved ones if you’re in a serious accident.
Every day, the lives of hardworking Floridians forever changed when they are seriously injured by an uninsured driver and discover they don’t have adequate UM protection. All the more reason to get Uninsured Motorist coverage. While you cannot predict accidents, you can, with Uninsured Motorist insurance, protect yourself and your family when you are in a serious accident caused by someone’s careless driving.
Wayne Hogan is a Jacksonville personal injury attorney. He is a board certified civil attorney and president of Terrell • Hogan, a Jacksonville personal injury law firm dedicated to representing the injured since 1974.