WHAM! You just got rear-ended in a car accident. Your head is spinning, your heart is racing and your adrenaline is pumping. The last thing on your mind is whether the person who hit you has insurance, as you are thankful to be walking out of the crash alive. The police officer hands you the “Exchange of
Information” sheet, which says that the other driver has a well-known insurance company. On the way
to the hospital you remember that your agent told you that you have “Full Coverage.”
What does full coverage even mean? In the State of Florida, the minimum insurance limit that a driver
must carry in order to purchase a tag is $10,000.00 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000.00
in Property Damage Liability. PIP is no-fault insurance that provides the insured with up to $10,000.00
in medical benefits, regardless of whether they caused the accident. Property Damage Liability only
extends to the property itself. That’s right: there is no requirement in Florida that a driver carry Bodily
Injury Liability insurance in the event they injure the other driver.
For many of us, insurance policies read like a foreign language. Most insurance carriers will provide
Bodily Injury (BI) Liability insurance, which protects you in the event that you injure someone else
in an accident. Unfortunately in South Florida, that might not be enough. In October 2012, the Sun-
Sentinel reported that nearly 24 percent of all drivers in Florida don’t have any insurance, putting
Florida in the top five states with uninsured motorists. South Florida has a reputation for an even higher
concentration of uninsured motorists. These statistics do not take into account the number of drivers
who carry $10,000.00-$50,000.00 in BI coverage. If you are seriously injured in an accident, these
minimal policies may not be enough to even cover your medical bills.
My mother always told me, “It’s not you I’m worried about, it’s the other drivers.” Fortunately, there is
a simple way to protect against those other drivers. Your insurance carrier must offer you Uninsured/
Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UM).
This variety of coverage takes the place of the other driver’s
absent insurance, or steps in right behind the other driver’s insufficient insurance. This insurance is so
important, that the insurance company must not only offer it to you, but you have to go out of your
way to reject the coverage. If you fail to reject UM insurance, by law, the insurance company must
automatically provide you with coverage equal to your BI limits. This underlines how essential it is to
carry UM insurance.
Don’t stop there. Ask your insurance company about “stacking” your UM coverage,
which multiplies the policy limits by the amount of cars insured under your policy. For example, if you
have $50,000.00 in UM coverage and three vehicles on your policy, then each driver insured under the
policy will have UM limits of $150,000.00.
There are other types of coverage that exist, but by carrying UM insurance, you are greatly increasing
the odds of protecting yourself. As always, we hope that you never need to make an insurance claim
or need a personal injury lawyer, but if you do make sure that you are really “fully” covered. For more
information, please visit our personal injury page.