In the United States, it is estimated that one out of every seven drivers is uninsured. According to insurance.com, Florida has the second most uninsured drivers in the nation. In 2012, almost 24 percent of Florida drivers were uninsured. If you are injured by an uninsured driver, you may be responsible for your medical bills and lost wages.
You may be surprised to learn that Florida does not require drivers to purchase Bodily Injury (B.I.) coverage, that is the coverage you would pay for damages caused by a negligent driver. For example, a driver could crash into you and cause permanent injuries and you would be unable to obtain any compensation from the negligent driver's insurance company because that driver did not buy B.I. coverage. In that situation, the next potential layer of insurance coverage you would look toward is your Uninsured Motorist coverage, commonly referred to as "UM."
Uninsured Motorist coverage can pay for injuries or damages to you and your passengers when an accident is caused by another driver, and that person and/or vehicle is uninsured or underinsured. UM coverage will cover you and your passengers for medical expenses, loss wages, and pain and suffering.
Uninsured Motorist coverage applies when an at-fault driver has no Bodily Injury coverage or inadequate coverage. An easy way to remember the definition and importance of UM coverage is that it protects "you and your family." If multiple members of a family live in the same household you can also purchase "stacking" of your uninsured motorist coverage. Although the premium for stacked coverage is higher, the benefits of the additional coverage can be enormous.
Florida law only requires a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 for Property Damage Liability. No other insurance coverage is required to operate a vehicle on Florida roads. You should also know that the $10,000 PIP primarily is used to pay for medical expenses and only will be paid to healthcare providers. This coverage also will pay a small percentage of an injured person's lost wages. Some advertising can be misleading by suggesting that PIP benefits can be paid to the injured person.
As you can see, it is important to consider all of these issues when purchasing insurance coverage and you should be sure to speak with a knowledgeable and reputable insurance agent to ensure that you and your family are protected.
Michael Weiss is co-founder of Blaut Weiss Law Group, a South Florida-based personal injury law firm that represents clients in accident, medical and professional malpractice, property and personal insurance claims. The firm is dedicated to helping victims receive fair compensation for their injuries.