Purchasing auto insurance can be a confusing and expensive experience, which so many insurance companies to chose from and the seemingly endless types of coverage, the whole process can be a bit overwhelming. One of the questions that often comes up after an auto accident in Florida is what exactly is underinsured/underinsured motorist coverage? To answer that question, it is important to first understand bodily injury coverage.
Bodily injury coverage is the insurance coverage that pays for injuries caused by an at-fault driver. In other words, if you are involved in an auto collision and sustain injuries, when you make a claim against the at-fault driver for those injuries, you will be making a claim against that person’s bodily injury coverage. However, Florida’s auto insurance system is unique in that it is one of only two states in the country that does not require its drivers to carry bodily injury coverage (Florida drivers are only required to carry no-fault (personal injury protection) coverage and property damage coverage). What results is a system where drivers without bodily injury coverage cause accidents and leave injured parties little to no recourse in recouping damages for their injuries.
This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance coverage on YOUR OWN auto policy that will “step into the shoes” of an at-fault party who doesn’t carry bodily injury coverage and pay for damages on behalf of the at-fault party. For instance, say you are involved in an auto wreck that is not your fault and break your arm. Soon after the wreck you find out the at-fault party did not have bodily injury coverage on their policy. In this situation, you would be entitled to make a claim on your own uninsured motorist coverage for the damages caused by the at-fault party.
Further, when you purchase uninsured motorist coverage in Florida you also receive underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage operates in the same way as uninsured motorist coverage but comes into play when the at-fault driver has bodily injury coverage limits that do not cover your damages. Take the same scenario as above, you are involved in a collision and break your arm, but now, imagine the at-fault driver does have bodily injury coverage with a limit of $10,000.00. That’s great, but your medical bills are $40,000.00. In this situation, you can make a claim for the $10,000.00 from the at-fault party and then make a claim for remaining damages on your underinsured motorist coverage.
This coverage is invaluable, especially in Florida, where thousands of drivers are on the road with inadequate insurance coverages. However, most consumers purchasing auto insurance either have no idea what is, or they are confused about what it covers. If you have questions about your insurance coverage, the attorneys at Barrett Nonni & Homola are happy to discuss your options free of charge. Call us today at 850-601-1111.