So, you may be asking yourself, "Why should I spend money to buy UM coverage when it is not mandatory?" My response would be, "Why would you NOT want to protect yourself from irresponsible drivers who do not carry insurance or hit you and run?" More importantly, in our great State of Florida, the legislature has not made Bodily Injury liability coverage mandatory. That means that someone can legally drive a car in Florida without any insurance to cover them for liability for causing injury to you. Interestingly, they must carry Property Damage liability coverage to fix your car if they cause an accident. This seems ridiculous, but it is the law.
UM is considered so important that Florida law requires that you automatically get UM coverage in the same limits as your Bodily Injury (BI) liability coverage unless you sign a written rejection. Unfortunately, many insurance agents in Florida reflexively ask each client to sign the UM rejection form under the guise of "saving you money." This is very bad advice by your agent and should not be followed by you under any circumstance. If your agent asks you to sign a UM rejection form, you should ask them if they are going to pay for your injury claim out of their pocket if you're the victim of a hit-and-run driver or are hit by someone with no BI coverage or very little BI coverage. In my opinion, any insurance agent with your best interests at heart will recommend against rejecting UM coverage.
Keep in mind that there were over 70,000 hit and run accidents last year in Florida alone. That means there were 70,000 uninsured motorist claims by definition because the driver of the other car left the scene. Therefore, the odds are very high that you or someone in your family or a friend will be the victim of an uninsured motorist in any given year. Don't be victimized twice. If you're hit by a uninsured motorist and your agent convinced you to sign a UM rejection form, you will not have a source of recovery for your injuries. (PIP coverage, also called "No Fault," will be your only available source to pay your medical bills in such a case. PIP coverage is very limited and pays nothing for future wage loss or any pain and suffering damages.)
Remember that you can only buy UM coverage in the same or lower limits as your bodily injury or BI coverage. My recommendation is to carry at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence BI and UM coverage limits. You should always stack UM coverage if you ensure more than one car or truck. For example, if you have $100,000 per accident and $300,000 per occurrence UM stacked on two vehicles, your available recovery amount is then $200,000 per person and $600,000 per accident.
All in all, UM coverage is the most important coverage you can buy and is also one of the least expensive. Do not go without it. That is my advice to you.
About the author: attorney Rick Martindale is the president of the Martindale Law group. Attorney MARTINDALE is a former insurance claims adjuster and insurance claims manager. Mr. MARTINDALE has also worked as a lawyer for the insurance companies in the past representing those who caused accidents and injuries. Attorney MARTINDALE appears weekly on several Orlando radio stations on his own shows discussing issues such as this and other legal matters related to personal injury litigation. If you have had an accident, please contact Attorney Martindale at the Martindale Law Group in Orlando. His office phone number is 407-897-8964 or visit www.MartindaleLawGroup.com