Many drivers do not have a full understanding of their automobile insurance policies. We all know that we must have insurance to drive1 and that the insurance will protect us in the event of an auto accident, but the exact details of auto insurance policies are a great unknown.
One of the most important parts of your automobile insurance policy is your uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). These parts of your policy are what will protect you should you be injured by a driver that has no insurance coverage or inadequate insurance coverage.
Uninsured motorist insurance, or “UM” coverage, is a part of your policy that comes into play should you be hit by a driver without insurance. This is also the part of your policy that comes into play should you be the victim of a hit and run and are unable to determine who hit you. In both of these scenarios, your claim would be submitted to your own insurance company for payment. If a lawsuit is filed, the at-fault driver is named, as well as the insurance company that holds the uninsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured motorist insurance, or “UIM” coverage, is the part of your policy that kicks in should you be hit by a driver without inadequate insurance. This often occurs when your injuries are severe and the driver only has state minimum or other low policy limit coverage. In those scenarios, your UIM coverage may then compensate for the difference between what the at-fault driver’s insurance covers and the extent of your injuries. If a lawsuit is filed, both the at-fault driver and the UIM insurance provider are named.
The purpose behind UM/UIM coverage is to ensure that a driver who is struck by an uninsured motorist is still able to recover for the damage they have suffered, just as if the at fault driver had been insured.
To further this interest, the Florida legislature mandated that UM/UIM coverage be made a part of all automobile insurance policies where bodily injury liability coverage was being obtained. In short, the legislature decided that if you are injured due to someone else, you shouldn’t be stuck with no recourse because the other person was uninsured and has no assets.
In Florida, every auto insurance policy that provides coverage for bodily injury is required by law2 to provide an equal amount of uninsured motorist coverage, with only a few exceptions. The full law can be found in Florida Statute §627.727.
Understanding Your Coverage
Many insurers do not make much of a distinction between UM and UIM coverage and simply lump them together. In Florida, the amount of your coverage has to be at least the amount of your bodily injury liability coverage unless you specifically opt not to have it. It may be a better idea to increase your UM/UIM coverage because this type of coverage is specifically to protect you in the event the other driver does not have enough or the right type of insurance to cover all of your losses.
Typical bodily injury liability coverage pays for someone that you’ve injured. But if you’re a good driver, odds are that you fear being hit by someone more than hitting them. If you are hit by a
driver without insurance, you want to make sure that your policy limits are high enough that you’re not getting victimized twice. First, you’re injured. Second, you’re stuck with the bills that your insurance will not cover above the policy limits.
Another benefit of increasing your UM/UIM coverage is that it is usually much cheaper than bodily injury coverage, meaning that you can increase the amounts at a much lower cost and ensure your protection. Ultimately, the benefits of good UM/UIM coverage outweigh the costs and the risk of going without it.
Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation!
If you have been injured in an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist, contact a St. Petersburg personal injury attorney right away. A lawyer familiar with litigating Florida personal injury cases can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured in an accident to discuss their options with an experienced lawyer.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers at Dolman Law Group, call our office today at 727-222-6922 or send us an email through our online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712