Many insurance agents discourage people from purchasing UM coverage and tell their customers that UM is not necessary or they can save a little money by not purchasing this coverage. For the most part UM is not an expensive addition to your policy premium compared to liability coverage or collision coverage, neither of which cover your injury in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. The real reason agents discourage buying UM is that it is a very affordable coverage and a great bargain for the client, but not a good deal for the insurance company.
Many people who do have UM coverage don’t want to pursue a claim against their own insurance carrier, or don’t understand how or why they would have a claim under their UM coverage.
In Florida the only insurance that is mandatory is PIP (Personal Injury Protection which covers 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages after an accident regardless of fault up to $10,000.00. Right now PIP is being overhauled in the Florida Legislature and may change drastically after this week, unless our law makers in Tallahassee are unable to reach some agreement.
If you are involved in an accident in which the at fault driver either has no liability insurance coverage or is under-insured with regard to bodily injury liability, you may find that there is no coverage for your injury, or insufficient coverage for your injury, other than the minimum PIP coverage as required by law.
If your injury is serious, your medical bills may well exceed $10,000.00, and if you have a serious or permanent injury you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries from the at fault driver that caused the accident. You would expect the at fault driver to have liability insurance to cover your loss, but in Florida there is no requirement that any driver carry bodily injury liability insurance. In the current economy, many drivers elect the minimum required insurance coverage of PIP and property damage, and forego purchasing liability coverage.
To add insult to injury, if the at fault driver is in such a financial condition that he or she cannot afford liability insurance coverage, then they probably don’t have any assets to speak of, which means that filing a lawsuit against them would not be of any benefit either, as any judgement you might achieve in court would likely be uncollectible.
Uninsured motorist coverage then takes the place of the bodily injury coverage the at fault driver failed to carry, or supplements the inadequate or under-insured coverage of the at-fault driver.
The injured person can pursue a claim against their UM coverage in the same manner that they would have pursued their claim against the un-insured or under-insured driver.
In the case of an under-insured driver, for example, the at fault driver carried $10,000 in liability, but your loss is in excess of this amount, you would first pursue a claim against the at fault driver for the limits of their liability coverage, then pursue a claim under your own UM coverage for the remaining value of your injury claim. In the case of an un-insured driver, your claim is under your own UM from the outset once it is determined that the at fault driver has no liability insurance.
Clients are often hesitant to pursue a claim against their own insurance company when the accident is not their fault, however this would defeat the whole purpose of having UM coverage. It is like having homeowners insurance and not wanting to file a claim after your house burns down. It makes no sense not to utilize a coverage that you paid for, which will cover your loss.
Making a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage is not any easier, or simpler than making a claim against the at fault driver. Most insurance companies do not simply pay out the benefit available under your UM coverage and require that you prove your claim, normally with the assistance of a lawyer, in the same manner as you would against the at fault driver. Clients normally find their own insurance company fighting them for the UM benefits they paid for, and offering settlements under the UM coverage that are far less than the value of the claim.
If you want more information about pursuing a UM claim, call Scott and Fenderson for a free consultation 727-321-0099
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