Will Your Car Insurance Fully Protect You?
Most people who own a car believe they have “full coverage: for their car insurance; however, as a lawyer who handles personal injury claims, “full coverage” means something very different to me than it may mean to you.
Under Florida law, only two types of coverage are are required: personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability. It is estimated that approximately one out of three drivers on Florida roads only have the minimum required coverage. It is important that you be fully protected in the event one of those drivers injures you due to a rear-end collision or other accident which is not your fault.
If you are seriously injured, you have the right to pursue a claim against the other driver and his insurance company for your pain and suffering. However, if the other company for your pain and suffering. However, if the other driver does not carry the elective coverage of bodily injury liability, you will not be able to obtain any settlement from his company. If he does carry bodily injury liability, it is likely that it will only be a minimum coverage of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per occurrence. If the value of your claim for your injuries is greater than $10,000, you will still only be able to obtain his maximum $10,000 coverage.
Therefore, it is extremely important that you properly protect yourself by carrying a maximum amount of uninsured motorist coverage. This is often abbreviated as U.M. on the declaration sheet of your policy. I recommend at least $100,000 per person $300,000 per occurrence for each vehicle in your household. If you have more than one vehicle, I strongly recommend, “stacking” which allows you to combine your coverages to your maximum benefit. In other words, if you have three vehicles in the household and each of them is insured with U.M. of $100/$300 stacking will allow you to actually have a total of $300,000 per person and $900,000 per occurrence. Stacking is well worth the small additional premium which insurance companies charge.
Your U.M. coverage also stands for underinsured motorist coverage. This means that you can make a claim against the other driver’s insurance and get the total amount available under that policy and still make an additional claim under your U.M. coverage if your injury justifies it.
During my over thirty years of handling personal injury cases, I have often had to turn people away who were seriously injured through no fault of their own but did not have U.M. coverage and where the negligent party did not have bodily injury liability coverage. Trying to go after an individual driver in Florida is an exercise in futility, since it will be virtually impossible to collect, even if you go to trial and get a judgement against that person. If you do make an uninsured motorist claim with your own company, this should not affect your premium, since you were not at fault.
Your uninsured motorist coverage follows you wherever you go and whatever circumstance may result in injury to you involving a motor vehicle. For example, you can make an uninsured motorist claim if you are driving a rental car, driving someone else’s car, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or driving your own vehicle in another state. This coverage provides you the maximum protection to insure that you will be compensated fully for your injuries if someone else is at fault.
I offer all clients a free consultation to discuss any personal injury claim. I am also pleased to review your car insurance policy with you to explain the coverage that you have and make any recommendations for change. I am not an insurance agent; however, I encourage all of my clients to have the best possible car insurance coverage to protect them. My philosophy is that the opposite also holds true: if you don’t have the right insurance, that’s probably when you will need it the most.
Please feel free to call me for a free personal or phone consultation regarding any issues pertaining to personal injury claims or car insurance coverage.
Serving Broward and Palm Beach Counties since 1973Be Smart!