Clarifying the Need for Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Recently, my office represented an individual that was involved in extremely severe car accident. She suffered significant injuries that required her to be bedridden for a few months while she recovered. Obviously, during this time she was unable to work and had she been able to, it is unknown if she would have been capable of performing her job adequately. She was employed as a waitress and thus, required to be on her feet for long periods of time. Liability was clearly on the other driver and thus, not an issue. When I met to sign up my client, I asked her if she had uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). This is commonly referred to as “UM coverage.” She stated she did not and further mentions she only could afford “basic coverage” (i.e. PIP). She curiously asked me if this was “bad” and would be an issue. Not wanting to upset her, I answered that we would see what type of coverage the at-fault driver had and that she needed to focus on getting better.
Given the title of this blog, I'm sure you know where this story is going. The next day I was informed by the at-fault driver's insurance carrier that their policy only had $10,000 in bodily injury liability (BI). The good news is that they tendered the limits by 5PM that day. The bad news is that I had to inform my client of this inadequate coverage.
Simply, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is FOR YOUR PROTECTION. Commonly, people think it is to protect the other driver and thus, not needed. This would be the case in instances where you are the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, far too often Florida drivers fail to realize the importance of securing uninsured motorist (UM)/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage to help protect themselves from Florida's dangerous drivers and highways. By the time they do, it is too late.
Florida law requires that drivers carry a minimum of ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and property damage coverage, respectively. Surprisingly, there are NO requirements that drivers carry bodily injury (BI) liability insurance or uninsured motorist (UM)/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. As a result, there are countless motor vehicle accidents in which drivers and passengers sustain serious and permanent bodily injuries due to the negligence of others that do not carry BI insurance coverage or the amount is insufficient for the damages they cause. This was the case with the client I mentioned above.
When another driver does not carry BI coverage or carries inadequate amounts of BI coverage, carrying UM/UIM coverage protects YOU! UM/UIM coverage can provide compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Another added benefit of having UM/UIM coverage is that it can provide compensation to you as a bicyclist and/or pedestrian injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Furthermore, UM/UIM coverage can provide coverage if you are injured by a phantom motorist or a hit-and-run driver.
As a Tampa Bay Area motor vehicle accident attorney, I cannot emphasize enough the need for some type of UM/UIM coverage to protect you and your family from other drivers and vehicle owners that choose not to carry BI coverage, or carry insufficient amounts of such insurance coverage. Usually, the added cost for this coverage to your average automobile insurance policy is nominal and certainly pales in comparison to the safety blanket it provides.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, or are having a problem with your insurance claim, you should immediately contact the personal injury attorneys at Butash Law Group at (813) 341-2232 to schedule a free consultation.