Most drivers who have auto insurance know that it can be a valuable thing. Not only can it cover personal injuries or property damage, but in some jurisdictions, it can also help cover any damages or injures to an innocent person. Even though the majority of states require drivers to have automobile insurance, there are some people who do not comply with these requirements and drive with either no automobile insurance or automobile insurance that is under the state-regulated rate. Accordingly, there are other types of auto insurance that can be of help to individuals who get into automobile accidents with such persons. Two of these categories of auto insurance are uninsured motorist coverage underinsured motorist coverage. While they might sound similar, and even though they both benefit drivers, these types of automobile insurance are applied in different situations.
Florida and Fault
Before getting to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, however, it is important to first understand the rules of fault in Florida. Florida is known as a “no-fault” jurisdiction when it comes to the payment of automobile insurance claims after an automobile accident. This means that drivers are required to carry insurance that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. These benefits cover any medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident, as well as certain non-medical costs resulting from the accident, such as lost wages. In addition, Florida imposes a minimum amount that their insurance must cover. The minimum limits are $10,000 for PIP benefits, and $10,000 for property damage liability benefits.
In addition to this, there is what is known as “bodily injury liability coverage,” which can provide coverage for injuries to another party. Interestingly enough, while most injuries are dealt with through the no-fault system, a victim may pursue a claim against the negligent driver outside of the no-fault system. This can only happen, however, if the victim suffers from either permanent injuries, significant and permanent scarring, or if there is significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function as a result of the accident.
Even though Florida drivers are required to have automobile insurance that pays PIP benefits, they are not required to have bodily injury liability, uninsured, or underinsured coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Even though Florida requires its drivers to have a certain amount of automobile insurance, there are still some people who do not, or cannot, maintain their own coverage. There are two types of insurance deficiencies that can affect a person’s claim. The first is the uninsured motorist, who has absolutely no automobile insurance. The second category is the underinsured individual, who may have the minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage, but does not have enough insurance coverage to provide for the opposing party’s bills.
While each policyholder would go to his or her own insurance company if involved in an automobile accident in Florida, uninsured motorist coverage can still have a significant benefit. Interestingly enough, while Florida does require its drivers to maintain automobile insurance, it does not require its drivers to maintain uninsured motorist coverage. In order to receive any benefit from uninsured motorist coverage, however, certain elements must exist at the time of an accident in order to trigger the uninsured motorist coverage.
What Does it Cover?
While PIP goes a long way to help cover your own personal injuries, any injuries above that can generally be covered by the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage, if he has any. If the other driver has no such coverage, then in most cases, an individual would be left with the remaining bills. Generally, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage would cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages after there is confirmation that the at-fault driver has no insurance, or has insufficient insurance coverage to pay your bills.
Why is it Important?
At this point, you might be asking why uninsured, or underinsured motorist coverage is important, especially since Florida is a no-fault jurisdiction when it comes to automobile insurance claims. While a person’s injuries resulting from an automobile accident will generally be covered by her own insurance company, these injuries generally have limits. Once these limits are passed, an individual would generally be able to file a claim with the opposing party’s insurance company to cover the bases. In some events, however, the opposing party may not have sufficient, if any, insurance. In these cases, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage can help provide for additional medical bills.
Should I Get it?
While some people may tell you not to get uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can do a lot to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting some uninsured motorist coverage, if you haven’t already done so. As any driver knows, anything can happen at any time, regardless of how safe you might drive. While there is a level of uncertainty on the road, protecting yourself is one way to gain more control over an otherwise terrible situation.