Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist

Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist

Automobile insurance can be a confusing thing, especially when thinking about all of the coverage options that are offered in the state of Florida.  And while Property Damage Liability and Personal Injury Protection are the only coverages legally required to own a vehicle in Florida, there are other coverages you should consider when purchasing insurance. We are going to focus on one of those coverages in this blog, Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Liability coverage.

Out of the over 20 million registered vehicles in Florida in 2016, 23% of them did not have insurance. That’s over 4 million cars that could cause an accident leaving you injured and nowhere to look.  Never mind the countless number of vehicles that carry insufficient limits, again leaving an injured not-at-fault party with little financial relief.  One coverage that could help protect you from this situation is Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage.

What Does UM Cover?

Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist insurance is good to have in our state since Florida law does not require a driver to carry Bodily Injury liability coverage (only Personal Injury Protection or PIP and Property Damage liability).  Bodily Injury liability coverage protects an insured when they cause injuries to others in an accident that is their fault.  UM acts similarly to Bodily Injury coverage but instead of being there for the benefit of third parties, this coverage pays you, and passengers in the insured motor vehicle, any monetary damages you are legally entitled to recover as a result of bodily injury or death caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver. Basically, it 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 injuries they cause. UM coverage pays for things like:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of the future enjoyment of life
  • Lost wages and disability
  • Long term nurse care
  • Wheelchairs and medical devices
  • Pain & suffering
  • Death
  • Replacement services for things you are no longer able to do- yard service, cleaning, etc.
  • Cost to retro-fit your house to accommodate disabilities caused by the auto accident

UM limits must equal the Bodily Injury limits on your policy unless you reject the coverage entirely or request other limits in writing. This coverage applies when Personal Injury Protection benefits are not applicable or have been exhausted. You may select stacked or non-stacked UM coverage.

Stacked vs. Non-Stacked

What is stacked and non-stacked UM? Let’s say you have Bodily Injury limits on your policy of 100/300- $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident. Assuming you elect not to reject this coverage or take lower UM limits, if you choose to stack your UM limits, it would actually increase the limits on your policy based on how many vehicles you have.  If you have two vehicles, for example, it would increase your coverage to 200/600.

Stacked UM and Non-Stacked UM have several similarities.  Both allow the insured coverage while occupying an auto that they own and insure.  Both afford the insured coverage while occupying a non-owned auto, such as a rental car or a borrowed car.  Both forms allow the insured to collect UM benefits if they are struck as a pedestrian by an uninsured motorist.  In other words, both forms are ‘portable’ and follow the insured in their car, others cars or as a pedestrian.

These two forms also have a significant difference.  Non-Stacked UM will not respond if the insured is occupying a vehicle owned by the insured, but not insured for UM under the policy. An example….the insured buys a second vehicle and forgets to call his agent to add the vehicle within the timeframe allowed in the policy (generally 14 days).  Sometime later, the insured is hurt in that vehicle by an uninsured/underinsured motorist. Coverage under the non-stacked form will not respond. Stacked UM would respond.  Another example…..the insured owns a motorcycle and insures it under a motorcycle policy, but has rejected UM coverage under that policy.  The insured is hurt by an uninsured motorist while riding the motorcycle.  Non-stacked UM would not respond, but stacked UM would.

If you are curious about your current coverage and want to discuss Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, give one of our licensed agents a call at (863) 683-2228 or get a quote on our website. We would be happy to review your situation and discuss alternative coverage and limits.