Despite laws that compel the purchase of auto insurance, many people choose to drive without it. According to the Insurance Research Council, nearly 13% of U.S. motorists are uninsured. If you live in Florida, your odds of encountering an uninsured driver are even greater than the national average. An estimated 24% of Florida’s licensed drivers, almost one in four, are uninsured.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal Injury Protection is required for Florida drivers. PIP compensates the insured driver and household members for medical treatment regardless of who is at fault. It covers the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, and incidental costs associated with medical care. PIP does not cover pain and suffering or future medical care. It does not cover future loss of earnings, loss of future earning ability, or disability. The coverage with PIP is usually limited to $10,000 in medical and disability benefits. Plus $5,000 in death benefits resulting from bodily injury or death. This stems from ownership, maintenance or use of the insured motor vehicle.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
Bodily injury liability coverage provides coverage for claims made against you for the accidental bodily injury of other parties injured in a crash involving an insured motor vehicle. The named insured and family members are excluded from this coverage. Florida law does not require bodily injury liability coverage to be carried. If you are injured in an auto accident with one of the 24% of Florida drivers who do not carry bodily injury liability insurance, your recovery is limited to your own PIP coverage, unless you carry an Uninsured Motorist (UM) policy.
Paying for UM coverage may frustrate the responsible drivers who abide by the insurance laws. The cost of not having UM coverage may be far greater than paying the premiums to your insurance company every month. If you or a family member is involved in a crash with an uninsured driver and you don’t have UM coverage, you lose your ability to recover for future medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic damages such as lifelong disability and pain and suffering. Your health insurance and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will only pay the bills you have received for the extent of your injuries today, not for any future losses attributed to the accident.
In Florida, if you elect to carry bodily injury liability insurance, the law requires that the insurance company also provide UM coverage. Unless you expressly reject it. Your insurance company must fully advise you of the nature of UM coverage. They must further notify you that the coverage will be equal to the bodily injury liability limits on a stacked basis. Unless however, lower limits are requested or the coverage is rejected.
Stacked & Non-Stacked UM Coverage
Make sure to ask your insurance agent whether the insurance company offers both “stacked” and “non-stacked” UM coverage. Stackable coverage means the uninsured motorist coverage on multiple vehicles covered under one policy can be increased by stacking the coverage.
For example, if the policy provided stacking uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident, on two family vehicles, then the total coverage available for injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist would be $200,000 per person. That’s $600,000 per incident. You may reject this coverage entirely, reject just the stacking feature, or choose lower limits. Your rejection or selection of lower limits needs to be made on an approved form. Stacked UM insurance usually costs more, but it provides broader coverage.
So why should you have Stacked UM coverage? The answer is simple. To make sure that you and your family have the broadest protection – anywhere, anytime, in any vehicle.