In Florida, approximately 1 out of every 4 drivers are driving without automobile insurance. The Insurance Research Council ranks Florida in the top 5 states with uninsured drivers.
In addition to the alarming number of drivers who simply do not have insurance are the drivers who only carry the bare minimum coverage necessary. Florida only requires evidence of Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability coverage in order to legally register a vehicle, meaning there is no requirement that coverage for injuries to others after an accident be provided for even if an insurance policy is in force. This is a bit of a catch-22 as there are significant financial repercussions for not having this coverage or funds to cover injuries in the event of an accident, but many people are more concerned about keeping their insurance premium to the absolute minimum than proper insurance coverage.
Florida only requires $10,000 per person, up to a total of $20,000 per accident in Bodily Injury Liability coverage – the absolute lowest of any of the 50 states. Therefore, even if someone carries automobile insurance, it is likely if you are injured in an accident caused by another driver that the at-fault driver’s policy may not have high enough limits to cover all of your medical expenses, lost wages, etc. and pursuing someone personally for financial reimbursement is not always possible.
These are all reasons you need to protect yourself while driving on our roads. The good news is Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage is available on Florida automobile policies. It affords you with the ability to protect yourself, your family, and any passengers in your vehicles by providing the same benefits available under Bodily Injury Liability to those in your vehicle if you’re hit by someone without insurance, someone without adequate insurance coverage, or a hit and run driver.
We recommend our clients carry Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage equal to their liability limits and stacked. For instance, if you carry Bodily Injury Liability limits at $100,000 per person, up to $300,000 per accident you would have the same amount of coverage for yourself if you are injured in an accident caused by another person, MULTIPLIED by the number of vehicles on your policy. For a three vehicle household that means you have coverage under Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury for $300,000 per accident, up to $900,000 total. Stacked coverage also allows you to extend your Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage to vehicles you owned that are garaged and insured in other states or insured on separate policies.
Many times we come across policies that carry non-stacked Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Liability. This means that the limits are as stated and NOT multiplied by the number of vehicles on your policy. It also removes any extension of the coverage to vehicles beyond those listed on your policy. If this is you, please consider increasing your coverage to stacked as the premium increase is often minimal compared to the coverage you gain.
If you opt to reduce your Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage by choosing non-stacked limits, decreasing the limit carried below your Bodily Injury liability limits, or even rejecting the coverage entirely, you are required to sign a waiver acknowledging that you are carrying Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage at limits below what is recommended.
Sometimes people choose not to maximize their Uninsured Motorist Liability because they say they have excellent medical insurance. It is important to note that in the event of an automobile accident, coverage under automobile policies pay for medical expenses before your medical insurance will come into play. With the exorbitant costs for hospital stays and medical transport even many people with excellent medical insurance find it makes sense to maximize their automobile insurance coverage for medical expenses to ensure the financial impact of being seriously injured in an automobile accident is minimized. Also, as previously noted, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury provides coverage for things beyond medical expenses such as wages lost if you are unable to work after an accident and compensation for pain and suffering.
For those who wish to maximize their Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage, particularly in light of the number of uninsured and underinsured motorists on our Florida roadways, you can carry additional limits on an Umbrella or Excess Liability policy.
Please take a look at your current automobile policy to ensure that your Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage suits your needs. If you do not carry stacked Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury, or if your limits are lower than your Bodily Injury Liability limits, please ask for a quote to see how minimally increasing this coverage might impact your premium.
For additional questions or comments, please contact me at Dimmitt Insurance:
Elizabeth Staley, Private Client Account Manager
25191 US Hwy 19 N
Clearwater, FL 33763