Understanding Florida Insurance: Why You Need UM Coverage Before an Accident in Florida
Florida law requires all motorists to maintain a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to operate a vehicle on our roadways. This includes a minimum of $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL) for each vehicle. But considering that motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries and the average first-year costs are over $375,000 for a minor spinal cord injury and almost $1.2 million for a severe quadriplegia injury, the minimum requirements are simply inadequate. Our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers know that just the ambulance and emergency department visit could cost more than $10,000 for generalized injuries, let alone if a victim suffered broken bones, organ injuries, nerve damage, and other personal injuries.
Fortunately, there are some ways for victims and their families to protect themselves from overburdening financial damages after a Florida car accident. This includes purchasing uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance policies to protect you and your family. But unfortunately, far too many people do not obtain this type of supplemental auto insurance just to save money on monthly premiums. Our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers want you to know that this could be a big mistake in ensuring that you recover the compensation you need after an unexpected and catastrophic accident in Florida.
What is UM/UIM Insurance?
There are two types of additional insurance policies or riders to policies that a motorist could obtain. Sometimes they are grouped together as supplement underinsurance motorist coverage (SUM), or collectively as (UM).
The first component is uninsured motorist coverage, referenced above as UM. This type of coverage protects a motorist from damages due to another driver who does not have valid auto insurance and is otherwise uninsured at the time of the car accident.
The second component is underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). This type of coverage adds higher coverage if the PIP or other bodily injury liability (BIL) is insufficient to cover your damages.
The important aspect of both UM and UIM, usually collectively referenced as UM, is that it is “inwards facing.” Meaning that whatever policy you take out with your insurance carrier is only meant to cover you and your family. An UM policy does not cover other motorists outside your vehicle that may be injured and seek compensation; that would be a BIL or umbrella policy for liability. This means that consumers should feel better knowing that their monthly premiums are being paid towards their own benefit if they ever need UM coverage in the future.
When Might I Use UM Coverage?
There are generally three scenarios when you may need to utilize UM coverage. The three common scenarios include the following:
Hit and Run Accidents – if you have been hit by another motorist who flees the scene and you are unable to find them or their insurance, your UM coverage may cover you for your losses.
No Insurance – if the defendant’s insurance lapsed, either accidentally or intentionally, your UM coverage may cover your losses due to a gap in the defendant’s coverage.
Excessive or Catastrophic Injuries – if you have suffered catastrophic injuries such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation, nerve damage, organ injury, blindness, or other serious and disabling damages, your UM/UIM may cover the gap in coverage between the existing policy and the amount of the UM/UIM coverage.
How Much UM Coverage to Get?
Like all types of insurance policies, the higher the coverage the higher the premium. It is recommended that motorists carry at least $100,000 to $200,000 in UM coverage, but ideally up to $400,000 or $500,000 if financially possible. This will insure that you and your family are covered if a defendant either fails to have auto insurance or fails to have a high enough policy to cover your damages.
Injured in a Tampa Bay Car Accident With An Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist? Ask Our Lawyers for a FREE Case Review What to Do Next
The adage is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That cannot be more true than it is with auto insurance. It is vital to ensure that you and your family are well-protected in the event that a reckless or careless driver harms you and either has no insurance, too little insurance, or flees the scene. But if this has happened to you, call our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers at Dumas & Sanclemente to learn how we can help protect your rights to compensation under Florida law.
Our law firm offers free consultations, contingency fee agreements (meaning we do not get paid until you get paid), and we cover the upfront costs and disbursements of litigation which are only reimbursed if we win your case. Get started with our firm by calling (844) 400-2667 to schedule your FREE case evaluation or send us an email by using our message box at the bottom of our contact us page available here.