Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage and Why It Is Essential for You to Carry in Florida

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) insurance is an often-misunderstood but particularly important type of insurance that is essential to carry in Florida as a part of your automobile liability insurance policy.  While UM coverage can be added to your automobile liability insurance policy, it is not mandatory under Florida law.  UM insurance is therefore purely voluntary coverage that will cost a motorist a little bit extra to add to his or her policy.  However, any driver who chooses not to carry UM coverage in Florida is taking a very big risk for several factors that are unique to driving in the Sunshine State.  These include the fact that Florida has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation as well as one of the highest hit-and-run rates.  Given these two unfortunate phenomena, it is particularly important for every Florida driver to carry UM coverage as a part of their automobile liability insurance policy lest they become involved in an accident and find that the driver who injured them either does not have any insurance or flees the scene of the accident.  This can be financially catastrophic, as motor vehicle accident often can cause tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for victims. Having to bear these expenses yourself is a burden no Florida motorist should endure.

What Automobile Liability Insurance Is Required Under Florida Law?

Florida law requires that all motorists carry $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) and personal damage protection coverage in their automobile insurance policies to legally operate a vehicle on the Sunshine State’s roads; this is the absolute minimum legal requirement.  Drivers are welcome (and should be encouraged) to carry more insurance than this. Florida drivers are not required to carry underinsured and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under Florida law.  This is a purely optional coverage that, for the reasons discussed below, should really be mandatory due to the number of (i) uninsured drivers and (ii) the number of hit-and-run accidents that occur on an annual basis in the Sunshine State.

Florida Has One of the Highest Rates of Uninsured on Its Roads of Any State

Florida has one of the highest populations of uninsured motorists on its roads of any state in the country, according to virtually every study that has ever examined the issue.  According to a 2017 Insurance Information Institute study based off 2015 data (the latest year for which complete data was available), Florida’s rate of uninsured drivers was 26.7%.  By way of comparison, Maine had the lowest rate of uninsured drivers at just 4.5% of the motorists on that state’s roads.  Therefore, if you have the misfortune of being involved in an accident in Florida, the chances are much higher than in Maine that the driver who hits you will not have any automobile liability insurance.  This leaves you exposed because the only recourse you would have in that instance would be to pursue the driver who actually hit you to recover your damages suffered in the accident.  However, if that person is not carrying insurance, then it is even more likely he or she lacks the assets to cover whatever damages you may have suffered in the accident.

Florida Has One of the Highest Rates of Hit-and-Run Accidents of Any State 

As previously discussed in our firm’s blog, Florida also has one of the highest hit-and-run rates in the nation.  According to statistics compiled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, nearly 25% of the accidents in Florida result in the driver who is at fault fleeing the scene of the accident. If police are unable to locate a fleeing hit-and-run driver, then your recourse would be your own UM insurance.

What Should You Do About This?

The next time your automobile liability insurance policy comes up for renewal, consider adding UM coverage to your policy.  UM insurance will provide coverage when you are 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 you suffered in the accident.  It also will cover you in the instance that you are hit by a driver who flees the scene of the accident and cannot be found by police.  Purchasing UM coverage is an extremely wise decision for every Florida driver given the large proportion of uninsured drivers on the state’s roads as well as the sky-high incidence of hit-and-run accidents in Florida.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley if You or a Loved One Are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident in Florida

Given the large percentage of both hit-and-run accidents as well as uninsured drivers in Florida, the chances are high for Florida motorists that, if they are involved in an accident, the other driver either may not have either the insurance coverage to cover their full damages or the driver may simply flee the accident scene.  Purchasing UM coverage will ensure that you will not be forced to hold the proverbial bag and pay for your own damages in connection with an accident that was not your fault.  The  personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing those who have been injured in a variety of motor vehicle and truck accidents.  In our experience representing thousands of motor vehicle accident victims, carrying UM coverage is a very wise decision.  However, even if you or a loved one have been injured by a driver who was carrying insurance, please call us today for a free consultation at (877) 694-6079 or email us at contact@schwedlawfirm.com.

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