If a person is injured in an automobile accident in Miami, different insurance policies may cover that person's losses. When processing your claim for damages, a personal injury attorney will often request a copy of their client's motor vehicle insurance policy in part to determine whether the client possessed uninsured and/or underinsured coverage. The lawyer may also explain to his client that he/she may have to file a claim against their own insurance carrier. Is this a reason for concern?
What is Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage?
Uninsured vehicle insurance covers a person for "bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death" caused by the "owner or operator" of a motor vehicle which did not possess bodily injury coverage of his/her own. Florida Statutes §627.727. As such, uninsured coverage acts as a safety net to protect a person when the faulty driver has no insurance coverage that will cover that person's loss. Under Florida law, in order to get a tag for a car, an owner only has to have PIP coverage and $10,000 in Property Damage coverage. Neither of these coverages will pay someone who is hurt by the driver of the car's negligence for their injuries.
Underinsured vehicle insurance covers a person for "bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death" caused by the "owner or operator" when the insurance coverage (liability) of the at-faulty driver is not sufficient to cover the injuries to another caused by an accident. Such coverage will kick in only if the damages sustained by a person in an automobile accident are greater than the liability coverage afforded by the faulty driver's own insurance policy.
Why Should You Carry Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage?
As stated above, under current Florida Law, the minimum required motor vehicle insurance coverage is No-Fault and Property Damage Insurance. However, these policies do not cover third parties for bodily injuries sustained as the result of the negligence of a driver of another vehicle. Bodily injury insurance which would cover such losses is not mandatory in Florida. As such, if a person sustains bodily injuries in Florida as the result of the negligence of another driver, there is a good possibility that the driver's motor vehicle insurance will not cover the loss as most studies have shown that a majority of the cars in South Florida do not carry liability insurance.
It is thus advisable that Florida motor vehicle insured's add uninsured and/or underinsured insurance coverage to their motor vehicle insurance policy. This will afford them coverage for bodily injuries sustained in automobile accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers who do not have adequate bodily injury insurance coverage. Think of it this way, if you are injured because of someone else's negligence and you have a brake your leg and cannot work, who is going to pay your lost wages? Your medical bills over and above your PIP? Your lost wages or loss of earning capacity? No one, that's why to need to insure yourself and your household family members with this most important coverage.
Will My Premium go up if I File a Claim Against my Own Insurance Carrier?
Unlike many other states, under Florida law, insurance carriers cannot raise one's insurance premium for an accident which was not caused by that person's negligence. Florida Statutes specifically states it illegal for motor vehicle insurance carriers to impose or request "an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance or any combination thereof or refusing to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless the insurer's file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident." Florida Statute §626.9541(o). As such, a person who is not at fault in an accident should not hesitate to file a claim against their own Florida uninsured/underinsured policy as it will not affect their insurance premiums. This is the reason why personal injury attorneys immediately look into and often file such claims when the faulty driver's insurance coverage does not adequately protect against their client's losses.