What You Need to Know About Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Auto Insurance

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New Port Richey, Florida – With the economy in the shape it’s in, you could find yourself involved in a car accident with someone who does not have insurance. In fact, according to the Insurance Research Council’s statistics for 2011, an estimated one in seven drivers is uninsured. This is unfortunate because you or one of your family members could easily be injured in an auto accident with a driver who does not have insurance that covers your injuries that they have caused. However, there are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from situations like this. This is where uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance comes into play.

Types of Coverage in Florida

1. Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Coverage: This pays for damages should you cause a motor vehicle accident and injure someone else. Shockingly, this is not a requirement of auto insurance in Florida.

2. Property Damage Coverage: This is pretty straightforward. This pays money should you cause an accident that results in property damage.

3. Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Regardless of who caused the accident, this used to pay $10,000 for your medical bills and lost wages, no matter who was at fault. Due to recent changes by Insurance lobbyists and our Florida legislature, this motor vehicle insurance requirement has been extremely watered down to only include $2500 for non emergency medical bills, but remains $10,000 for all emergency care. Not surprisingly, this insurance coverage was reduced but we still all pay the same for it. The law change amounted to a give away to Insurance carriers, but remained somewhat in tact as a give away to inflated bills of emergency rooms and ambulance companies. Also, this coverage is only applicable if you make a claim within 14 days from the accident, previously there was no time limit on this no-fault coverage…thanks Tallahassee.

What is Uninsured Underinsured Motorist Coverage

UM and/or UIM insurance coverage protects those injured in an accident by another motorist who has inadequate insurance or none at all. It is especially important to have this coverage in Pasco County, New Port Richey, Dade City as the state of Florida does not require BI insurance. BI insurance does not cover your injuries, rather, it pays money should you cause a crash and injure someone else. Should you find yourself injured in a collision caused by a driver who does not have BI coverage, you could be forced to cover your own medical expenses out of pocket. Keep in mind that one trip to the emergency room can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000, and this does not include the costs of future medical care and lost wages. So, if you have to miss several months from work because you are recovering from an injury or surgery, how will you pay the medical bills while keeping your family afloat? Health insurance can offer some assistance in the matter, but providers often delay payment when costs pile up from auto accidents.

The reality is uninsured motorist coverage can help. It is intended to cover your medical bills, lost wages and money for pain and suffering after the $10,000 PIP protection (which in most cases will be $2500 due to the recent Florida law change) is depleted and once the at-fault driver has established there is no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your medical care costs.

Why You Need Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Our Pasco County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton strongly advise purchasing stacked UM coverage. Why? With stacked UM coverage, if a policy has $100,000 UM coverage limits per person/$300,000 per accident, and two cars are covered under the stacked policy, then the coverage limits would be increased by a factor of 2 (due to the number of vehicles) to $200,000 per person/ $600,000 per accident. For the same situation and a non-stacked policy, the policy limit would still only be for $100,000 per person/ $300,000 per accident. Stacking coverage is usually not that much more in premium charges and purchasing this can drastically increase your coverage.

At Whittel & Melton, we believe it is sensible to purchase stacked UM coverage for the same amount as your bodily injury liability coverage. While insurance agents may try and tell you this coverage is unimportant and that you don’t really need it, just remember that they are only saying this to save the insurance company money. Insurance companies know that a cautious motorist is more likely to be the victim of a bad driver accident. So while they may be enthusiastic about selling you BI coverage, that you may never use because you did not cause a crash, they may be wary to offer UM coverage because you are more likely to be a victim and need financial reimbursement for injury-related costs. Keep in mind, more insurance is usually not too pricey. To summarize, insurance companies may not push you to purchase UM coverage, because the premiums for this very valuable coverage does not cost much more and too often accidents involve uninsured or underinsured drivers.

The Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton encourage you to speak with your insurance provider to make sure that your family and health are protected. If your insurance agent urges you to purchase non-stacked uninsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist coverage less than the amount of your BI coverage, then you may want to question whether they are working to help you or working against you to protect the insurance company from actually having to pay a claim.

If you have been involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, the Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you recover the compensation you deserve. If you have any questions about your insurance policy, UM coverage, or have been involved in any kind of accident, contact us online or call us in New Port Richey at 727-847-2299.

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