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By MarcWites

Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Like the amount of rain in Florida, here is another situation in Florida that you hear about all the time.  Someone gets hit by a vehicle but that vehicle’s owner does not have insurance coverage.  So, what does that mean for you?  It means that your insurance will pay for the repair of your vehicle.  No big deal, you think?   Now, what if, in that same accident, you are injured and need to seek medical treatment, and miss work?  If you do not have Uninsured Motorist Coverage on your automobile insurance, you are out of luck when it comes to collecting benefits for your medical bills, pain, suffering and lost wages, if the total value of such claims exceeds the $10,000 available under your PIP Policy (link to other blog post). And, since the damagesin most car crashes easily and quickly exceed $10,000, you should keep reading.
Who Needs UM Coverage?
While Florida law requires that all drivers be insured, a recent study found that Florida had the fifthhighest rate of uninsured motorists in the United States at approximately 23 percent.  That means almost 1 in 4 drivers on Florida’s road does not have automobile insurance.
Those scary numbers do not even factor the millions of Florida’s drivers that only have PIP coverage (and no Bodily Injury Coverage) or have Bodily Injury Coverage of only $10,000 (which doesn’t always cover the initial hospital visit).
Add these numbers together, and the odds are pretty high that if you are in a car crash, the at-fault driver will have little or no insurance.
What is UM Coverage?
To avoid a situation where your claims are not covered because the at-fault driver has little or no insurance, ask your agent about Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage, which also is known as UM coverage (and sometimes is called UM/UIM coverage.
What is UM coverage?  UM is intended to protect persons who are injured as a result of negligence by motorists who either do not have insurance or have inadequate insurance to cover a particular claim. Florida law requires every insurance company to offer UM/UIM coverage in an amount equal to the bodily injury limits to anyone who purchases automobile insurance for a vehicle that is registered or principally garaged in this state. When an insurer has provided the limits of the bodily injury policy and such monies are less than the total damages suffered by plaintiff, underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage then applies.
Unlike PIP, Florida does not require insureds to purchase UM coverage.  However, insurance companies must provide UM coverage unless it is affirmatively rejected in writing by the insured.  The insurer must make available limits of UM coverage that equal to the limits of bodily injury liability insurance purchased by the named insured or one million dollars, whichever is less.  If the insurer does not obtain at the time of application proper proof that the insured rejected UM coverage (known as a UM Rejection), then the insurer is required to provide UM coverage equal to the limits for bodily injury liability in the policy
Said another way, UM coverage allows you to obtain monies from your own insurance company when the at-fault driver that caused your personal injuries, damaged your car, and/or caused you to miss work, does not have any coverage, or does not have enough coverage, to cover your claims.   If you agree that every Florida should keep an umbrella in their trunk, then you should likewise immediately call your insurance agent to make sure that you are covered by UM coverage.
Alex N. Law, Jr. is a founding shareholder of Wites Law Firm  The firm’s main office is in Lighthouse Point, Florida, and it has satellite offices throughout South Florida, as well as in various states.  The firm’s practice areas include the representation of injured persons and their families in personal injury and wrongful death actions, investment disputes, and class actions; immigration; the representation of consumers in lawsuits and pre-litigation collection efforts brought by creditors, as well as in bankruptcy; and commercial and civil litigation.

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Marc A. Wites

Marc A. Wites is the founding shareholder of Wites & Rogers. He directs the firm’s litigation practice groups for personal injury and wrongful death cases, class actions, property insurance claims, sexual assault, and investment fraud.

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