Understanding Uninsured vs Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Florida

uninsured vs underinsured motorist

Navigating Florida’s roadways involves more than just following traffic laws; it also means understanding the necessary insurance coverages that protect you financially in the event of an accident. At Clayton Trial Lawyers, we often encounter clients who are unsure about the nuances of uninsured vs underinsured motorist coverage—key protections that can make a significant difference in how damages are recovered following an accident. If you’re looking for answers on “do i need uninsured motorist coverage in florida” or want to know the differences between the two, you’ve found the right resource. Here, we break down these coverages and discuss why they are crucial for every Florida driver.

What is UM and UIM Coverage:

UM and UIM coverage provides financial protection in accidents where the at-fault driver is either uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover damages and injuries caused. While they appear to be similar, there are distinct differences of uninsured vs underinsured coverage:

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Uninsured Motorist Coverage helps protect you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who does not carry any auto insurance. In Florida, where carrying personal injury protection (PIP) is mandatory but bodily injury liability insurance is not, UM coverage is especially important. It covers you, your relatives who live with you, and passengers in your car for personal injuries, damages, or death caused by an at-fault uninsured driver. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Underinsured Motorist Coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver has auto insurance but their insurance limits are too low to cover the full amount of your losses. Like UM, UIM can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits. In Florida, UIM coverage typically supplements the at-fault driver’s insufficient coverage, helping you to not bear the financial burden from an accident.

Uninsured vs Underinsured Coverage: What’s the Difference?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage kicks in when you are involved in an accident where the other driver is at fault and does not have any auto insurance. Given that driving without insurance is illegal in Florida, UM coverage is your safety net, covering medical bills, lost wages, and other damages when the at-fault party cannot provide financial compensation.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage, on the other hand, is utilized when the at-fault driver does have insurance, but their policy limits are too low to cover all of your associated costs from the accident. UIM coverage can make up the difference, ensuring that your expenses are covered without having to pay out of pocket.

In Florida, UM and UIM are often sold together and can be rejected in writing if you decide not to purchase them. However, given the high rate of uninsured drivers in the state, it’s generally advised to have both coverages to ensure comprehensive protection on the road. It’s best to have both coverages instead of choosing uninsured vs underinsured coverage.


Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida?

Florida law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL), but UM and UIM coverages are optional. 

However, considering that Florida is a state with a relatively high rate of uninsured drivers, opting into UM and UIM can be a wise decision. These coverages are especially important in a state like Florida where you can quickly exceed the $10,000 PIP limit in moderate to severe accidents. So, ask yourself, “do I need uninsured motorist coverage in florida?” It’s highly recommended in Florida, but not required.

Benefits of UM and UIM Coverage

  • Financial Protection: Both UM and UIM coverages provide an extra layer of financial protection. This can be particularly valuable in serious accidents involving significant medical expenses or lengthy periods of work absence.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that you are covered, regardless of the other driver’s insurance status, offers peace of mind. Car accidents are stressful enough without the added worry about how expenses will be covered.
  • Flexibility in Coverage: You can choose your coverage limits for UM and UIM, which allows you to tailor your insurance to your personal needs and risk exposure. This flexibility helps ensure that you’re not overpaying for insurance but still have robust coverage.

Consequences of Not Having UM/UIM Coverage

  • Risk of Financial Strain: If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver without UM/UIM coverage, you might have to pay significant costs out-of-pocket. This can put a severe strain on your finances, especially if the injuries are severe and require long-term treatment.
  • Limited Recourse: Without UM/UIM, your options for recourse are limited. You might need to sue the at-fault driver, but if they lack sufficient insurance, they likely don’t have enough assets to cover your damages either.

What to Do If You’re in an Accident with an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver

After an accident involving an underinsured or uninsured motorist, it’s crucial to consult with a specialized attorney. This type of accident can complicate the claims process, as you may need to navigate through your own insurance policies for compensation. A specialized attorney will understand the intricacies of state laws and insurance regulations in Florida, ensuring that you can effectively manage the claims process and maximize your entitled compensation. An attorney can also handle negotiations with insurance companies, advocate on your behalf, and provide guidance on the possibility of litigation if insurance settlements are insufficient.

Unsure if you have uninsured vs underinsured coverage? Review your insurance policies today, with an attorney or insurance agent, before you find yourself in a situation without either.

Immediate Steps Following an Accident:

  • Contact the Police: Always file a police report, which is crucial for documenting the accident and establishing fault.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Prioritize your health and get medical attention immediately. This also provides records that are essential for insurance claims.
  • Document the Scene: Take photos, gather witness statements, and keep detailed records of any damages and medical treatments.
  • Consult with an Attorney: Especially in cases involving uninsured or underinsured drivers, legal guidance is critical. An experienced attorney can help navigate the complexities of insurance claims and explore other avenues for compensation.

Who Can Help You? Clayton Trial Lawyers

If you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you don’t have to face it alone. Clayton Trial Lawyers have the expertise to help you navigate the claims process and secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us take the burden off your shoulders.


Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Contact our experienced legal team for direct legal guidance and support.