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In 2012, 12.6 percent of motorists nationally, or about one out of eight drivers, were uninsured. Although the national percentage of uninsured drivers has been declining in recent years, the number of uninsured drivers in the State of Florida has been increasing. In 2007 Florida was ranked fifth in the nation for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, with approximately 23 percent of the State of Florida’s population driving without bodily injury liability coverage. By 2012, the Insurance Research Council reported that Florida was ranked as the second state in the nation with the highest number of uninsured motorists. In other words, there is one uninsured motorist for every four drivers in the State of Florida.

The Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported in 2013 there were over 316,000 traffic crashes in the State of Florida, which was an almost 13 percent increase in the number of traffic crashes from 2012. At that figure, there are over 850 traffic crashes in the State of Florida each day involving over 2,400 deaths/fatalities and in excess of 210,000 individuals injured as a result of these crashes. Unfortunately, the odds are that you will be in a crash at some point in the State of Florida. Recognizing these statistics it is imperative that every resident in Florida fully understands uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage.

Uninsured (UM) and/or underinsured (UIM) motorist insurance coverage will cover you and your loved ones when you are injured or killed in a car crash caused by a driver who is either uninsured or underinsured, carrying minimal or no bodily injury liability coverage. Remember there is an important difference between (BI) coverage and (UM/UIM) coverage.

When a driver has bodily injury liability insurance (BI) it covers a driver when he or she is at fault for causing an accident and provides coverage benefits to those injured by the actions of that driver resulting in personal injuries or death. However and importantly, in the State of Florida there is no law requiring a driver to carry (BI) coverage. If a driver causes an accident but cannot afford to pay for (BI) coverage or does not have enough (BI) coverage, the injured party, who is not at fault for causing the accident, is often personally responsible for the significant costs of medical expenses and ongoing treatment.

(UM) and (UIM) coverage is important coverage for you to have because it provides benefits for you and your loved ones when injured in a collision caused by a driver who carries minimal or no (BI) coverage. (UM/UIM) coverage covers expenses such as medical treatment, lost wages, future medical expenses, future wage loss, human factor damages (including pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement) as well as wrongful death damages. (UM/UIM) provides you and your family the insurance to cover you for your injuries or death caused by another who carelessly elects not to carry (BI) coverage. Importantly, (UM/UIM) coverage also follows you, providing protection for these losses even if you are not in your own insured vehicle when an accident occurs.

The law in Florida requires insurance companies to offer (UM/UIM) coverage but it is not mandatory and you may reject this coverage. However, it is extremely important that you understand that a rejection of (UM/UIM) coverage means you are electing not to insure yourself or your loved ones for those injuries caused by someone else who may elect to never carry (BI) insurance or carry insufficient (BI) insurance for your injuries.

The number of vehicles that you insure also impacts your (UM/UIM) coverage. If you own multiple vehicles that are insured you may elect to stack your (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. For example, if you purchase $100,000/$300,000 in (UM/UIM) limits, and you have two vehicles insured under the policy, you can elect a (UM/UIM) stacking provision and have total available (UM/UIM) coverage of $200,000/$600,000. Stacking coverage is helpful and is often a relatively cost effective means of obtaining additional coverage.

Simply purchasing the minimum insurance limits afforded by your company for BI and/or (UM/UIM) coverage, or even worse, electing to reject (UM/UIM) coverage, is not “full coverage” and you and your family are not “fully covered.” Most insurance agents fail to adequately explain the importance and necessity of (UM/UIM) coverage. UM/UIM coverage is one of the most important automobile insurance coverages you can purchase for yourself and your family as your “individual protection insurance coverage.” Make sure you and your family are “fully covered”.

Casey D. Shomo is the managing partner of the law offices of Casey D. Shomo, P.A. in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Mr. Shomo specializes in the representation of individuals and families in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. He has extensive litigation and trial experience in complex cases involving medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, nursing home abuse and other complex personal injury and wrongful death matters. As a solo practitioner with highly experienced staff, paralegals, nurse paralegals and investigators, Mr. Shomo is personally responsible with each claim from start to finish. He provides the personal attention for every client with the staff and resources commensurate with any large firm in Palm Beach County, Florida. With this experience, he provides each of his clients the expertise and focus to resolve their case in a prompt and efficient manner in the full measure of justice; justice for all one client at a time. – See more at: