Many people are surprised to learn that although Florida drivers must purchase automobile insurance coverage for their vehicle, Florida does not require drivers to purchase coverage to pay for injuries they cause to others. Even more surprising, almost one-quarter (24%) of Florida drivers operate their vehicles without any form of insurance (Source: Insurance Research Counsel 2009 Report).
As a tragic result of this combination, many people are seriously injured in auto accidents only to later learn that the person responsible for the accident does not have any insurance (or does not have enough insurance) to compensate the victim for the cost of their medical treatment, loss of income, and other damages resulting from the accident. If you have been injured in an accident involving a hit-and-run driver, an uninsured driver, or an underinsured driver, Uninsured motorist coverage may be available to pay for your losses.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage requires that your insurance company compensate you when you’ve sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence, and that person either left the accident site, does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most important types of insurance you can purchase, and insurance companies are required to offer you uninsured motorist coverage every time you purchase an automobile insurance policy, and every time you change the limits of your bodily injury coverage.
All automobile insurance policies in Florida automatically provide you with uninsured motorist coverage in equal limits to your bodily injury liability coverage, unless the insurance company can show that you knowingly rejected the coverage after informing you of the availability of the coverage and its nature. Because coverage is automatic, your insurance company bears the burden of proving you knowingly rejected uninsured motorist benefits.
Types of UM Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage comes in two forms – "stacked" and "non-stacked". Unless you reject uninsured motorist coverage, or choose to purchase non-stacked coverage, you are automatically provided with stacked insurance.
Stacked coverage offers many benefits above and beyond the benefits provided by non-stacked coverage. One of the most important benefits is that an insured is entitled to combine the amount of uninsured motorist coverage for each vehicle listed on the policy. For example, if an insured has uninsured motorist coverage of $50,000, and has 3 vehicles listed on their policy, a stacking uninsured motorist policy would provide up to $150,000 in coverage to the insured (3 x $50,000). Moreover, stacked policies provide much broader coverage, even for people with only a single vehicle on their policy.
To illustrate, these are some examples where an insured would benefit from stacked coverage:
- A person is injured in a vehicle that they own, but which is not listed on their insurance policy. Most non-stacked policies will exclude coverage unless the vehicle is listed on the policy providing uninsured motorist benefits. However, a stacked policy would provide coverage.
- A person is injured while occupying a vehicle they recently purchased, but did not report to their insurance company. Most non-stacked policies would exclude coverage unless the insured reported the purchase of the new vehicle to the insurance company within a short time of the purchase. However, a stacked policy would provide coverage.
Because of the importance of having uninsured motorist coverage in Florida, our attorneys recommend that their clients purchase uninsured motorist coverage, stacked, to the highest limits that are affordable.
How We Can Help in Accident Claims Involving Uninsured/Uninsured Drivers
If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident, it is important for you to obtain the compensation which you are entitled to receive. Unfortunately, presenting an uninsured motorist claim to an insurance company can be complex and frustrating. Insurance companies often deny claims on the basis that the insured waived coverage, that the accident falls outside the scope of the policy, or because the insured hasn’t shown that their damages exceed coverage available under other policies. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this often difficult process.
The personal injury attorneys of Syprett, Meshad, Resnick & Lieb assist their clients in all aspects of their case, including investigating the availability of uninsured motorist coverage. Our personal injury team is experienced at presenting uninsured motorist claims, both through settlement and through trial. If you have been injured in an accident, our personal injury attorneys will examine the applicability of all available insurance policies to help you obtain the benefits you are entitled to.
Please contact us through the form on this page or call 941-365-7171 today for a free consultation. Our law firm helps injury victims in Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Venice, or anywhere in the state of Florida.