Florida law only requires that an owner of a motor vehicle purchase Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage liability coverage. The law doesn’t require that a motor vehicle owner purchase liability insurance for bodily injuries. So, if you are in an automobile accident and the person that caused the crash doesn’t have bodily injury (BI) liability coverage, you will not be able to recover insurance benefits for your injuries from the uninsured at-fault party. In another common example, the person causing the automobile accident has BI coverage, but for a small amount such as $10,000. If your injuries are significant, that may not be enough to cover your claim. Most states require motorists to carry a minimum level of BI coverage. Georgia and South Carolina require $25,000 in BI coverage. This puts Florida in the embarrassing position of protecting property before its people.
What this really means for you is that you must protect yourself and your family by ensuring that you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. In order to get UM coverage, you must carry BI liability coverage. You cannot carry more UM coverage than your BI limits, but you may choose lower limits (although that may not be a good idea). UM coverage is relatively less expensive compared to BI liability coverage and may be the most important coverage you can have on your automobile policy.
There are two types of UM coverage available – “stacked” and “non-stacked.” Stacked coverage is slightly more expensive but the benefit it provides over non-stacked is enormous. For example, assume you own two vehicles with non-stacked UM benefits of 100/300 and you are in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. In that situation, you will only have available a maximum of $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident. However, if you had stacked coverage, you would have twice as much coverage available because the policies “stack” on top of each vehicle for a total of $200,000 per person or $600,000 per accident. Therefore, you may want to talk to your insurance agent about electing “stacked” UM coverage in the highest amount you can afford. If you’ve been in an accident and you’re unsure about what coverage you have, contact your insurance agent or contact a personal injury law firm that specializes in automobile accident cases, like Earle & Smith in Orlando, to see what type of auto insurance you have available for your claim.