6 Aug

Should You Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage If You Live In Florida?

Car Accidents, Personal Injury, Tips

uninsured motorist coverage

A look at the basics, pros, and cons of having uninsured motorist coverage in the Sunshine State from the perspective of a personal injury law firm

Buying or updating your car insurance policy can be confusing. There are a lot of random numbers and terms you’ll encounter, and you may have no idea what they mean (250/500/250? PIP? UIM?). You have a ton of different companies to choose from, and they’re all offering deals that seem to be great on the surface – they’re all promising to be the best and promoting different angles. What’s more, many times you’ll see a great deal based on some initial information that you provide, but then when you go all the way through the process of getting a quote and come to the point of actually purchasing a policy, the price will have jumped up dramatically; much to your frustration, you may not even know why.

While explaining all of the nuances of buying car insurance would take more than just a single blog post, we wanted to dedicate this one to talking about uninsured motorist coverage and answering some of the most common questions that Florida drivers have. What is it? Is it included in comprehensive coverage? Should you have uninsured motorist coverage if you live in Florida? Is it really necessary to have this type of coverage, or are you okay with just regular coverage? How expensive is uninsured motorist coverage? How much should you have if you get it?

Let’s dive in.

*Note: this is not a comprehensive guide to uninsured motorist coverage. We’re not insurance professionals, but in another sense, we are a kind of insurance expert; as Florida personal injury trial lawyers, we’ve spent over 37 years helping injured accident victims fight for fair compensation from insurance companies, including for accidents caused by an uninsured motorist, and we have recovered over $1 billion dollars for our clients. We get how insurance companies work and what kinds of coverage Florida residents should have in order to have the best chance at making a successful claim!

What is uninsured motorist coverage, and why do Florida personal injury lawyers recommend having it?

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) are available as one type of coverage in the state of Florida (UM/UIM). This is insurance that pays for the costs of an accident when it was caused by a driver who either didn’t have insurance at all or didn’t have the minimum amount of insurance required by the state. UM/UIM coverage can cover injury expenses and lost wages. You can buy coverage as a limit per person and a limit per accident. For example, a $100,000/$300,000 policy would mean that you have $100,000 worth of coverage per person or $300,000 worth of coverage per accident for all parties involved.

It’s important to note that uninsured motorist coverage is NOT the same thing as personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which in Florida covers medical costs of an accident (and lost wages) no matter which driver is at fault. All drivers in Florida are required by law to carry PIP coverage, but UM/UIM coverage is optional.

Just because accident insurance is mandatory under law does not mean that everyone will have it, though, and unfortunately, Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation. In 2019, one study had our state ranking 6th for percentage of uninsured drivers (20.4%). Another report released in 2021 suggested that that number may be as high as 26.7%, putting us in first place and making our rate 2.2 times higher than the national average, with 1 in 4 Florida drivers operating their vehicle without insurance.

The danger lies in the fact that people who are disobeying the law in one aspect are more likely to disobey other rules of the road as well (and this is backed by research; one study’s results showed that the accident probability for uninsured drivers is 34 percentage points higher than for insured drivers). This means that if you live in Florida, and you get into an accident, you have a higher than 1 in 4 (25%) chance that the person who hit you will be uninsured.

If you are hit by an uninsured driver and you have UM/UIM coverage, your PIP benefits would kick in first, and then your uninsured motorist coverage would kick in, assuming you have purchased enough of this insurance to cover the costs of the accident. If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, you could be in a situation where you are expected to pay for the costs of an accident caused by an uninsured driver that are not covered by your PIP out of pocket. This is why, as personal injury lawyers, we recommend that all drivers carry UM/UIM coverage, in as high of an amount as can be afforded, in order to protect themselves against a likely possibility.

Pros and cons of uninsured motorist coverage

When considering whether or not to buy uninsured motorist coverage if you live in Florida, here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind.

Pro: Additional protection

As discussed above, if you have personal injury protection insurance, and health insurance, and collision coverage, that’s all good, but because your chance of being injured in an accident with an uninsured driver is higher here than in other states, having UM/UIM coverage can give you peace of mind and extra protection. If you don’t have this type of coverage, you risk not being able to recover the full compensation you deserve if you were hit and injured by a driver without coverage.

Pro: Ability to stack policies

When you purchase UM/UIM coverage in Florida, you can stack policies, which means you can combine more than one vehicle under the same policy. For example, say you insure two vehicles on the same uninsured motorist policy, for $50,000 on each vehicle. If you stack your coverage, your limits would increase to $100,000 per accident. So if you were hit in one vehicle by a driver who didn’t have coverage, your insurer would be obligated to pay your expenses after the crash up to that $100,000 limit.

Pro: Easier to recover full damages for injuries

Because insurance companies lose money when they pay out claims, they will do everything in their power to avoid giving you the full amount you deserve for your injuries. (We know this from personal experience, having worked with thousands of injured accident victims who are fighting their insurance companies to pay out the rightful claims). Many people think that UM/UIM protection is automatically granted to them, but that is not the case, and if you don’t have it, your insurer can attempt to outright deny you coverage for your injuries resulting from an accident with an uninsured driver.

Con: Higher monthly premiums

While uninsured motorist coverage isn’t extremely expensive, it will make your premiums increase. For families already struggling to pay the high costs of auto insurance in Florida, increasing their monthly premiums may not be realistic. Adding uninsured motorist coverage to a Florida car insurance policy will only cost about $270 per year, on average, according to data from WalletHub. Injuries sustained in an accident may cost thousands without this insurance, though.

Con: You may never use it

The hope is that you will never be in an accident, and that is a distinct possibility – we hope that you are never injured in an accident. However, if you pay monthly premiums for uninsured motorist coverage, and never get in an accident, that money just goes to your insurance company – you don’t see that back. It’s a risk you take, but with all of the interrupted lives we’ve encountered, we believe it’s well worth it. UM/UIM coverage gives you the peace of mind that if something does happen, you’ll be protected!

Hit by an uninsured driver? Whether or not you have UM/UIM coverage, we can help!

If you were involved in an accident caused by a driver who was illegally driving without insurance, turn to The Florida Law Group. Our aggressive attorneys will fight for justice and maximum compensation for your injuries and suffering! We have been ranked in the top 1% of law firms nationwide. You never pay us unless we win your case! Call today to schedule a free consultation.