Do You Have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Why Florida Drivers Always Should Include Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage In Their Automobile Insurance Policies
Like all states except New Hampshire, Florida requires every motorist on its roads carry a certain minimum ($10,000) amount of personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage protection ($10,000) in their automobile insurance policies. However, Florida does not require drivers to buy coverage to pay for when they injure someone else in an accident. The message here is that Florida drivers are also not required to carry underinsured and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under Florida law but they should. UM insurance provides coverage when a driver is involved in an accident with a motorist who either is not carrying insurance at all or is not carrying enough insurance to cover the damages and/or injuries they cause. UM coverage kicks in when the damages or personal injuries suffered as a result of the accident exceed the amount of coverage of the negligent driver or, if the negligent driver had no injury coverage, UM under your policy becomes the primary protection for your damages. UM coverage is essentially insurance to cover a driver for the risk that another driver chooses not to carry sufficient (or any) insurance. Purchasing UM coverage is a wise decision for anyone who can afford it, as Florida has the second highest rate of uninsured or underinsured motorists on its roads. This, when combined with an accident rate that is among the highest in the nation, makes UM coverage essential for Florida drivers.
Florida Has One of the Highest Rates of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists on Its Roads of Any State
Florida has one of the highest populations of uninsured motorists of any state. According to a 2014 study by the Insurance Research Council, an insurance industry funded research organization, in 2012 Florida had more than 3,200,000 motorists not carrying insurance or carrying insurance in an insufficient amount. This made Florida second in the nation behind only California in terms of the absolute number of uninsured and underinsured drivers, a state with a much larger population than Florida.
Florida Also Has One of the Highest Accident Rates in the Country
In addition to having a large number of uninsured or underinsured drivers on its roads, Florida also has one of the highest accident rates in the country. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, there were 344,170 traffic accidents in Florida in 2014, an 8.6 percent increase from the prior year. In addition, according to the most recent statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Protection (“CDC”), Florida had more than 2,450 traffic fatalities in 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available. This put Florida in tenth place out of the 50 states with a motor vehicle occupant death rate of 6.4 persons per 100,000. In addition, the CDC estimated that traffic accidents cost the state more than $32 million in medical costs and more than $2.99 billion in lost work costs for that year. Therefore, not only are Florida residents more likely than residents of most other states to be involved in an accident, there is a higher probability any accident will be fatal to an occupant of the vehicle.
Florida Motorists Should Always Purchase UM Coverage if Possible
As can be seen from the statistics described above, Florida is a particularly dangerous state for motorists, not only due to the number of accidents that occur here but also due to the high number of uninsured/underinsured motorists. Due to these grim facts, Florida motorists should always purchase UM coverage if possible because, not only are they more likely to become involved in an accident than residents of many other states, the likelihood that the other driver in any accident does not carry insurance or enough insurance is much higher than in virtually any other state. Purchasing UM coverage will ensure that Florida motorists who are involved in an accident with a driver on a Florida roadway who either carries no insurance or is underinsured will be able to recover the full costs of their accident. It will provide peace of mind and help ensure that they are not bankrupted by an accident caused by someone who made the callous decision to not only drive negligently, but also not to carry sufficient (or any) insurance.
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