Under Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Insurance Law, a person that owns a vehicle is required to maintain auto insurance coverage. However, such law only requires the owner to carry at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL). Should you select an insurance policy with only the minimum? Will this coverage suffice if you are injured in a motor vehicle collision? The answer is likely no. The best way to protect yourself is to have Uninsured Motorist (UM) and/or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage.
If you have UM/UIM on your policy, you will have another layer of protection if the person that caused the collision does not have adequate coverage or does not have insurance at all. If you are involved in an accident and get injured as a result of such accident, the at-fault party’s insurance will cover your expenses if he/she has Bodily Insurance Liability (BIL) coverage. As mentioned previously, such coverage is not mandatory, and a considerable amount of vehicle owners do not have it on their policy or select the cheapest one (which is the coverage with the lowest limit). If this is the scenario, what happens if you are involved in a collision where the at-fault driver does not have BIL – or has a low limit – and you do not have UM/UIM? You will be responsible for a majority of your expenses and/or you will not be able to receive the recommended medical treatment because of how expensive it can be. On the other hand, if you do have UM/UIM on your policy, you will have the necessary coverage available to you up to the amount provided by the UM/UIM coverage.
Imagine if you were injured in an accident where the at-fault driver had no BIL coverage and you had UM/UIM of $100,000. Besides PIP, you would have up to $100,000 available to pay for your medical expenses. The same would occur if the at-fault has BIL of $20,000 but you have more than $20,000 in medical expenses; you would have PIP benefits available as well as BIL of $20,000 and up to an additional $100,000 from UM/UIM coverage.
If you are interested in protecting yourself even further, you also have the option to stack your UM/UIM coverage. Stacking increases your coverage based on the number of vehicles you insure. For example, if you have two cars listed on your policy and stacked UM/UIM coverage of $100,000 each, you will have up to $200,000 of coverage at your disposal. Thus, continuing with the example mentioned above, with the stacked UM/UIM coverage you would have PIP, BIL of $20,000 and up to $200,000 from UM/UIM coverage. Note that it is “up to” because you do have to demonstrate the severity of injuries and extension of medical treatment to justify the amount you are seeking from you insurance policy.
We all know insurance premiums are high; however, if you or someone in your household is – unfortunately – involved in a motor vehicle collision and requires great medical attention, that extra amount paid could be worth it. You should not always trust that whomever causes the accident would have an insurance policy with limits high enough to cover all your medical expenses.
Caroline R. Fischer is an attorney in NeJame Law’s Personal Injury division. Ms. Fischer has worked in matters involving auto accidents, slip and falls, wrongful death, and civil rights violations. Ms. Fischer was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She earned her Bachelor of Law degree from Mackenzie University and became an attorney in Brazil in 2011. In 2012, she moved to the United States aiming to improve her legal studies. Ms. Fischer earned a Master’s degree from Boston University School of Law and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law. She is licensed to practice in Florida, U.S. and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ms. Fischer is an active member of the Brazilian and Latino community in Central Florida and is involved with numerous legal organizations. Her unique background and training make her a valuable resource to the firm as well as clients. Ms. Fischer can be contacted at 407-500-0000 and firstname.lastname@example.org