Do I Need Florida Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
When it comes to auto insurance, Florida is what is called a no-fault state, meaning that instead of pursuing accident cases in court, where fault is decided by a judge or jury, medical bills are handled by filing claims with one’s insurer. In Florida, every driver is required to carry a certain amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance – but a surprising amount of them simply do not. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover any kind of compensation if you do not carry uninsured motorist insurance (UIM).
High Percentage Of Uninsured Drivers
Florida’s auto insurance system requires each person who has a vehicle registered in the state to carry at least $10,000 worth of PIP insurance, and $10,000 worth of property damage liability (PDL) insurance. This coverage must be operational even if the vehicle is not being driven. The policy must also be in force regardless of where the vehicle is located – just because it is not in Florida does not mean that the PIP insurance can lapse. Many people choose to ‘stack’ policies, giving them more coverage in the event of an accident, but this is not required.
Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (III) estimate that as many as 27 percent of Florida’s drivers are uninsured or underinsured, which is the highest percentage of any state by multiple percentage points. While the reasons for such a large percentage are hard to define, the fact remains that those 27 percent run the risk of having their license and registration suspended for up to three years, if they are stopped and discovered.
Ensure Your Bills Are Paid
Because of this high percentage of uninsured motorists, it can be a good idea for the average driver to carry uninsured motorist coverage, so that if you are involved in an accident with a driver whose insurance is lacking or absent, you can still be sure that your medical bills will be paid. In theory, if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can still make claims with your own PIP and PDL insurers, but your bills may cost more than your standard coverage will lay out.
If you do not have UIM coverage, you may have the option to file suit against the other driver if you have suffered “significant and permanent” injuries or disabilities as a result of the accident. However, this means that the issue of liability will be an issue of fact in court – liability and fault are not issues if one has uninsured motorist coverage. Keep in mind as well that in Florida, your auto insurer is required to offer UIM coverage; if you elect to reject it, you must do so in writing. If you do not remember rejecting it, you may have it without being aware that you have it.
Call A Tampa Auto Accident Lawyer
If you are involved in an auto accident, you have insurance coverage you can rely on – but it may not be enough if your injuries are severe. Adding uninsured motorist coverage may help to ease your mind – but whether you do or not, it is important to consult a Tampa car accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group so that you are aware of your options. Call our offices today for a free consultation.