While the number of uninsured motorists nationwide has declined, it continues to be a major concern here in Florida, where 1 in every 4 motorists lacks insurance coverage.
Our Boca Raton car accident lawyers recognize that while Florida is a no-fault state, uninsured motorists still pose harm to the rest of us because they limit the ability to seek damages directly from the at-fault driver’s insurer if the injured party’s own insurance isn’t enough to cover all loses. This happens all too frequently. Even those drivers who do maintain insurance often don’t have enough of it to pay for all incurred expenses, including medical bills, lost wages and property damage.
This is one of the reasons why uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is so critically important, especially in Florida. UIM coverage, as it is often referred, protects drivers in the event of a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver. It is an extension of the regular policy that agrees to pick up the tab for whatever excess amount the at-fault driver’s insurance wouldn’t cover (up to the stated liability limit). It does the same in cases where the at-fault driver had no insurance.
The state of Florida requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection and another $10,000 in property damage liability. If the crash is serious, this will be nowhere near enough to cover claims.
While many states require drivers to purchase UIM coverage, Florida is not among them. Still, optional doesn’t mean unimportant.
Many drivers also opt to purchase bodily injury liability, which covers serious or permanent injury or death to others when you or someone else cause a crash in your vehicle. The real benefit to the policy holder is that the insurer will indemnify them in a legal action, covering the cost of attorneys’ fees and litigation.
Still, many drivers fail to even keep the minimum degree of coverage in this state. According to the recent study by the Insurance Research Council, 3.2 million drivers in Florida lack insurance coverage. Per capita, that’s more than anywhere else in the country. California has 4.1 million, but the population in that state is almost double. Texas had the third-highest number, with 1.6 million uninsured drivers, but it also has 7 million more people than Florida.
The one bit of good news, however, is that the number of uninsured motorists nationwide has decreased in the last few years. In 2009, there were collectively 29.9 million drivers without insurance coverage in the U.S. In 2012 (the latest year for which data was available), there were 29.7 million. That’s a moderate decline, and it means that still 1 in every 8 licensed drivers lacks insurance.
Part of the problem is a lack of enforcement. In Florida, law enforcement officers do not have the ability to quickly verify insurance information during a routine traffic stop because officers lack a direct connection to insurance databases. Instead, they must have dispatchers call insurance companies to verify the information. Because of the length of time this takes, the matter is often left to the discretion of the officer, which inevitably means even those who are stopped without insurance may get away with it.
There have occasionally been targeted enforcement efforts, in which insurance companies team up with law enforcement to conduct a weekly or weekend detail. However, those instances are few and far between.
The IRC also reported $2.6 billion was paid out in 2012 by insurance companies for uninsured motorist claims. That figure does not include payouts made for total permanent disability or fatalities. Total per-claim payouts are significantly higher than they were 10 years earlier. The IRC reports a 75 percent increase from 2002 to 2012.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
New Study Reveals a Declining Trend in the Percentage of Uninsured Motorists, Aug. 5, 2014, Insurance Research Council
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Stratton v. Wallace – Trucking Companies Try to Sidestep Liability With Graves Amendment, Aug. 20, 2014, Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer Blog