Why should I get Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage? Why should I purchase any extra coverage when Florida only requires that I have $10,000 coverage for Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage Liability?
For Florida drivers, having enough auto insurance is a must—and not just because it is legally required in order to be on the road, but because like any law, sometimes it is broken. Florida is the sixth highest ranking state (III, 2019) for uninsured motorist at 20.4% of the state’s population. That is almost one out of every four drivers with no insurance, driving on the same roads as you. Think back and remember your last drive to work—there were probably over four people on the road with you, and statistically, at least one of them did not have insurance.
Not all that worried about uninsured motorist? Think about the number of people that probably opted out of additional coverage. They all had the same line of thought: “I am a safe driver. I have never been in an accident before. I don’t speed. I don’t text and drive. I don’t even talk on the phone when I drive. And I surely don’t drink and drive. I AM NOT AT RISK FOR AN ACCIDENT so why get additional coverage”. As of 2021, there have already been 401,170 car accidents in the State of Florida. In that number, there were a lot of individuals who never thought they would get in an accident and many people without enough coverage for the damage that resulted.
If you are in a car accident, and it is your fault, then your insurance company will pay for damages to the other vehicle under the state required property damage liability coverage but only up to $10,000—so if you hit and totaled a rather expensive vehicle, without additional coverage, you are responsible for the difference (and may be sued to ensure you pay it). Purchasing additional coverage can help protect you from such a large out-of-pocket expense. Florida's "no-fault policy" only means that regardless of fault, each person's insurance will pay first for medical expenses.
As for the damages to your vehicle, if you opted for the state minimum and skipped collision coverage, then you would be stuck driving a damaged vehicle or pay for repairs yourself. If you considered your potential risk for an accident, and purchased collision coverage, you would still have to pay the deductible, be responsible for repair costs over your coverage limit, and would be considered a higher risk driver, potentially causing your premiums to go up.
On the reverse side of things, if the other driver was at fault for the accident, their insurance would be paying for the repairs to your vehicle. If the other driver opted for only the state minimum, your repairs are limited to $10,000.
While the other party would be responsible for the cost of the difference, you'd likely have to sue to recoup those costs—it is unlikely they have thousands of dollars to pay you if they are skimping on insurance. This is why underinsured motorist coverage is so important. It will help to pay for the difference in repair costs when the other driver is lacking in coverage and you won't have to wait for the end of the lawsuit to get your vehicle back up and running.
If the other driver does not have insurance, one of two things is likely to happen. The first, being the worst, is that they flee from the scene of the accident. If you gather enough details of the car and driver, the police might be able to track that person down and send them to jail. However, you are still stuck with a damaged vehicle. Part of their sentencing may require them to pay you some amount of restitution, but you should not count on it. The second option is they stick around when the police respond to the accident and get in trouble with law enforcement for driving when not insured. Either way, you are still out of a vehicle and necessary repairs. Uninsured motorist insurance helps you (and helps you immediately) when you are hit by the one-in-four uninsured drivers on Florida roads.
When considering your car insurance options, consider all the potential risks, even if they seem unlikely, and prepare for the worst. That is, after all, what insurance is for. Speak with one of Magruder's car insurance agents to discuss all vehicle coverage options.