Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is an optional form of auto insurance that drivers can purchase in Florida. It provides coverage beyond your personal injury protection (PIP) policy when you are involved in a collision with a driver who does not have car insurance. Although the state requires every driver to carry PIP and property damage liability (PDL), Florida has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
After an accident with an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run, UM will provide complete protection. Once PIP benefits are exhausted, it pays for current, and future medical expenses and current and future lost income up to policy limits. Unlike PIP insurance, UM also covers property damage caused by the uninsured driver (e.g., repairing or replacing your vehicle) and pays for pain and suffering damages if your injuries meet the “permanent injury threshold.”
UM will cover you as the policyholder, your spouse, and any relatives living in your house. UM will also typically extend to any passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident.
Florida’s Permanent Injury Threshold
UM coverage will pay for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium if your injury consists of one or more of the following:
- Permanent and substantial impairment of an important bodily function.
- A permanent disability or injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Wrongful death.
Under Florida law, policyholders can “stack” UM coverage when necessary. This means the UM benefits purchased for all vehicles on your policy can be applied to a single claim. For example, suppose you have the minimum uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage of $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per accident on three vehicles and elect to purchase stacking. With stacking, your UM coverage limits would be $30,000/$60,000 per collision, no matter which vehicle was being driven at the time.
Who Needs Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Florida is ranked as the sixth highest state by estimated percentage of uninsured drivers, at 20.4% as of 2019 data. That means there is a more than a one in five chance that the driver you are involved in a collision with is uninsured. UM coverage is optional, but with this startling statistic, the benefits are indisputable. If you opt-out of UM coverage, the only option you will have to recover compensation beyond your PIP policy is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver personally. Drivers who do not carry auto insurance often do not have the financial means to pay a settlement or award. As a result, pursuing a claim directly against the uninsured driver isn’t always worth it.
Get Help with Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, speak to a highly qualified West Palm Beach uninsured motorist attorney. We will ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.