Did you know that by 2010, approximately one in six drivers across the United States may be driving without insurance? According to a recent study from the Insurance Research Council, the current recession is expected to trigger a sharp rise in the rate of uninsured motorists. Currently in Florida, 23 percent of all drivers are uninsured, ranking Florida among the top five states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, along with New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

An additional concern in Florida is that drivers are not required to carry Bodily Injury liability coverage, which would pay for personal injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering costs, caused to others in an automobile accident. If the injuries sustained in an accident are minor, it is possible that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits will provide adequate coverage. However, many drivers sustain injuries that far exceed PIP benefit limits. That’s where Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (collectively referred to as UM) coverage comes in – it protects a policyholder and other eligible persons from personal injury damages suffered as a result of the negligence of another motorist who either has no Bodily Injury insurance coverage or coverage that is insufficient to compensate injured persons for their damages. UM coverage also applies when injuries are caused by drivers who “hit and run” and remain unidentified.

UM insurance can be either “stacked” or “non-stacked.” When you purchase UM coverage, you are entitled to “stack” or add together the combined UM coverages of all the automobiles covered by your policy to determine the total amount available. For example, if a policy covers three automobiles, each with $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident UM limits, the policyholder will have $75,000 per person/$150,000 per accident available in the event of an accident. By contrast, if that same policyholder has non-stacked coverage, then the UM coverage limits of only the vehicle involved in the accident apply.

It is definitely a wise decision, then, especially in Florida where Bodily Injury liability coverage is not required by law, to also obtain UM coverage. It is generally inexpensive but can prove quite valuable, especially after an experience as traumatic as an automobile accident. To learn more about UM coverage or to inquire about your current limits, please contact us.