According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida had the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in 2015. In fact, more than 26% of the bodily injury claims filed that year involved uninsured drivers. Some might argue that uninsured drivers are only hurting themselves, but that’s not the case. A portion of your insurance premium is used to cover the cost of accidents caused by people who ignore the law and drive without the required coverage, making insurance more expensive for law-abiding citizens of the Sunshine State.
Florida Insurance Requirements
Florida requires all drivers to maintain a minimum of $10,000 in bodily injury coverage per person/$20,000 per accident. This is the lowest bodily injury minimum in the United States. Although a few states only require a minimum of $15,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage, a majority of states require at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. Despite the extremely low minimums, many Florida drivers choose to break the law by failing to purchase liability coverage. Florida is a no-fault state, which means your insurance has to pay for some of your accident-related expenses up to your coverage limits. Once you file a claim, your insurer may see you as more of a risk and decide to increase your premium when it’s time to renew the policy.
Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers
Uninsured drivers are the primary reason why car insurance is so expensive and why it takes longer for claims to be paid. If you’re involved in an accident caused by a driver who has the required coverage, you can typically recover from the other driver’s insurance company to pay for your vehicle. That’s not the case when you’re in an accident involving an uninsured driver.
If you get in an accident with an uninsured driver, you’ll have to file a claim with your own insurance company. Furthermore, you are already responsible for your deductible, and now you’ll have additional out-of-pocket costs for depreciation, rental vehicles, and medical payments. For example, your collision insurance should cover any damage to your vehicle, but it won’t cover your medical expenses for any injuries sustained in the accident.
How Uninsured Motorists Drive Up Costs
Uninsured drivers increase insurance costs for everyone else, but they also create major financial burdens for anyone who has the misfortune to cross their path. Depending on the terms of your auto insurance policy, you may also get stuck paying expensive repair bills to get your vehicle back on the road quickly. In some cases, it takes several weeks to fix a vehicle with heavy damage, which means you’ll also have to pay for a rental car or a ride-sharing service to ensure you can get to work, school or wherever you need to be. These extra costs, along with increased insurance premiums, can leave you struggling to pay for basic necessities.
The Financial Toll of Uninsured Drivers
If you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you may have to sue the driver to recover your medical expenses and anything else your own insurance policy doesn’t cover. Many personal injury attorneys take these cases on contingency, meaning any fees are paid out of money collected from the defendant, but not all do. Therefore, you may have to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to ensure that an uninsured driver is held accountable.
Even worse, if your injuries are severe enough, you may be out of work for several weeks while you recover and get your strength back. If your employer doesn’t offer adequate paid time off, you may not receive your regular salary while you’re recovering, making it even more difficult to keep your finances on track.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
One of the best ways to protect yourself in the event of an accident involving an uninsured driver is to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Florida doesn’t require drivers to purchase this type of coverage, but it can be a lifesaver if you’re involved in a crash caused by an uninsured motorist. Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM) coverage also protects you in the event that you get in an accident caused by a driver who has liability coverage with limits that are too low to cover all of your accident-related expenses.