Why Uninsured Motorist Coverage is Important in Florida

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Florida

Florida ranks above the national average for both deaths from motor vehicle crashes and the number of uninsured drivers. If you’re injured in an accident, you may face substantial costs like medical bills and a loss of earning capacity. If the driver that hit you was uninsured, they may not be able to pay for the damages they caused, even if you have a solid personal injury case. Additionally, many drivers are underinsured and may not be able to compensate you fully. Although it’s not required in Florida, purchasing uninsured motorist coverage is a way to protect yourself if you are ever injured in an accident by an uninsured driver.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage in Florida

Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for damages if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who does not have bodily injury liability coverage.

Florida residents are not required to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, but insurance companies are required to offer a minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage. If you choose not to purchase UM coverage, you must opt-out in writing. Opting out could result in serious financial consequences if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver.

Damages that uninsured motorist policies cover include:

  • Property damages
  • Medical expenses, both present and future
  • Lost wages
  • Future loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability costs
  • Wrongful death

Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state. This means that all drivers are required to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) auto insurance.

Personal injury protection insurance pays for medical expenses and other accident-related damages, regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. PIP protects the policyholder, their passengers, and any pedestrians involved in the accident.

If your medical bills and other damages exceed your policy coverage, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

The Prevalence of Uninsured Drivers in Florida

Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in uninsured drivers. According to the Insurance Research Council, 12.6% of drivers nationwide are uninsured. In Florida, 26.7% of drivers are uninsured.

What these statistics do not show is that for the 73.3% of drivers who are insured, they may only carry the legal minimum insurance coverage, making them very underinsured for accidents that cause serious injuries.

What Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida Entail?

There are two categories of uninsured motorist coverage you can purchase in Florida that each cover different damages.

They are:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UM or UMBI): This type of insurance covers a driver involved in an accident that was caused by the negligence of an uninsured driver. It covers damages related to physical injuries, like medical expenses.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIM or UIMBI): Similar to UM coverage, this type of insurance covers damages related to bodily injury. It is intended for drivers who have insurance but not enough to cover the damages.

The Risks of Being Involved in an Auto Accident

In 2019, there were 36,096 deaths from traffic accidents. While fatalities decreased in 2018, injuries increased.

In Florida, there were 352,134 traffic accidents between 1/1/23 and 11/30/23. Those accidents caused 2,944 deaths and 224,796 injuries.

Statistically, there is a fair chance that you will be involved in a traffic accident at some point. Even the safest driver is at risk because they cannot control the behavior of other drivers. To reduce your risk of injury in an accident, wear seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, and bicycle gear. Purchasing insurance coverage to pay for injuries sustained in an accident is another way to protect yourself.

What To Do If You’re Hit By an Uninsured Motorist in Florida

If you are involved in a car accident with another driver, you should always take the following steps:

Seek Medical Attention

You should get medical attention as soon as possible following an accident, even if you don’t think you’ve been injured. Some injuries may not show up right away, and some injuries may make you unable to work for some time. Seeking medical attention also creates documentation of your injuries in medical records.

It’s important to complete any treatments your provider prescribes, including medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and follow-up appointments.

Call Law Enforcement

According to Florida law, you must notify the police about any accident that results in bodily injuries, death, or property damages of $500 or more. Call the local police for accidents within a municipality, the Florida Highway Patrol for accidents on state or interstate highways, and the county sheriff for accidents in rural areas.

Gather Information From the Other Drivers

Get the name, address, and contact information of all drivers involved in the accident. If they are insured, get the name(s) of their insurance companies and their policy numbers.

Collect Evidence at the Scene

Take pictures of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved and their license plates and any road or weather hazards that may have contributed to the accident. You should also take photos of any injuries.

Talk to Witnesses

Get the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident or was at the scene when it occurred. Make notes of what they saw and heard. You should also write down any details you remember about the accident as soon as you can, because you may forget them later.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Insured drivers are responsible for notifying their insurance provider after a traffic accident. You don’t need to contact them from the scene of the accident, but you should contact them as soon as possible. According to Florida law, if an uninsured at-fault driver cannot afford to pay for the damages they caused, the car accident victim has 30 days to send a written settlement notice to the insurance company.

If you fail to contact your insurance company within this timeframe, they may deny your claim or cancel your policy altogether.

Once your insurer is notified, they will begin an investigation into the facts of the accident. They may offer you a settlement, but you should not accept any settlement offer until you’ve consulted a Florida auto accident lawyer.

Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

A Florida personal injury lawyer who is experienced in dealing with auto accidents can review the details of your case, identify the at-fault party, establish negligence, and determine the value of your damages to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Your lawyer will handle all aspects of your case, including negotiations with insurance companies, so you can focus on your recovery.

You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident, but personal injury cases must be filed within two years of the date of the accident.

Pros & Cons of Having Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida

Pro: Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you purchase UM or UIM coverage, you may be able to “stack” your policies. For example, if you purchase a $100,000 UM / UIM policy and have three vehicles on the policy, you can “stack” the policy so that there is $300,000 in coverage. The amount of coverage is multiplied by the number of cars covered under the policy.

Pro: Protection Against a Hit-and-Run Accident

A hit-and-run accident is when a negligent driver strikes your car, causes an accident, and then flees the scene without exchanging contact information. You usually cannot seek compensation from a negligent hit-and-run driver because you have no way of contacting them or their insurance company.

Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) and uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) policies generally cover hit-and-run accidents. In Florida, you can buy a UMBI policy to protect you from damages caused by a hit-and-run accident.

Con: Cost 

The only aspect of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage that can be considered a con is the actual cost of the policy. This additional monthly premium is often minimal and sometimes only a few extra dollars a month. You can select lower limits to keep the monthly premium lower. Talk to your insurance agent to learn how purchasing UM / UIM coverage will affect your premiums.

Comparing Florida’s Coverage With Other States

Some categories of uninsured motorist policies can only be purchased in certain states. For example, you cannot buy UM / UIM property damage insurance in Florida, but you can in other states like Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio.

You can purchase UM / UIM bodily injury insurance in Florida. Check your state’s UM coverage rules and speak with a personal injury lawyer to determine what damages you want covered by your policy.

Contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner For Help With Uninsured Motorist Accidents in Florida

If you were injured in an auto accident by an uninsured or underinsured driver in Florida, contact the personal injury lawyers at Steinger, Greene & Feiner. Our experienced car accident lawyers are familiar with Florida uninsured motorist coverage laws, dealing with insurance companies, and taking cases to trial if necessary. We will fight to get you the full compensation for all injuries and other damages you have suffered.

We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless you get paid. Contact us for a free case evaluation today.

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.