Frequently Asked Questions - How Do Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Claims Work?
In the state of Florida, the laws regarding auto insurance requires that an individual carry Personal Injury Protection or PIP and Property Damage, both in the minimum amount of $10,000. PIP is the coverage that pays for your medical bills and wage loss claim, if you become injured because of an accident no matter who is at fault for the accident every individual is entitled to treatment. Property damage pays for damage that you cause to another person’s vehicle or property, it does not pay for repairs to the damage to your vehicle. Florida is a No-Fault state, which means that no matter who is at fault, under PIP, all your medical bills will be paid at 80% of the reasonable amount charged and lost wages are paid at 60%, up to $10,000. Just enough coverage to drive legally, means that drivers are underinsured and if they cause an accident, their minimum coverage will not be enough to pay the medical expense and/or property damage of the other parties. Having underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage will benefit you in this kind of situation.
If a person has been injured as a result of an auto accident that was caused by the negligence of another driver, then that individual has a right to present a claim for injuries sustained to the at fault person’s insurance company to seek compensation for the permanent injuries received as a result of the accident. If the negligent person carries Bodily injury coverage, then the injured person can send a demand seeking compensation for reasonable medical bills, wage loss and pain and suffering. If the negligent person either does not carry bodily injury coverage or carries a very minimal amount and the injured person has the optional coverage of uninsured/uninsured motorist coverage they can present a claim to their own insurance carrier to seek additional compensation for injuries sustain as a result of the auto accident.
Basically, you are suing your own insurance company for additional compensation that you are entitled to since you suffered a permanent damage as a result of the negligence of the other driver and after proving to the insurance company that the at fault person has limited amount of coverage available or lacks any coverage at all, the insurance company will then evaluate your claim and review for additional settlement possibility.
To present a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, first you must present your injury claim to the at fault carrier for the limits of the bodily injury coverage. Typically, a demand package is sent with a copy of the medical records, bills, wage loss information, copies of the police report and any photos of the vehicle damage to express the severity of the impact and to prove liability. Once the insurance company has paid the limits of the policy, then the injured person can present the claim to their insurance for additional compensation for the injuries sustained from the accident.
Once a settlement has been reached between the at fault insurance carrier and the injured person, before any payment can be issued, receipt of a UM subrogation waiver is required to obtain the acceptant of the Bodily injury settlement payment. The UM insurance company has two available options once the waiver has been requested, they can either pay the settlement money which allows the injured person to also receive payment from the bodily injury carrier and also allows the UM carrier to seek reimbursement from the at fault parties directly. In the majority of times, the UM carrier will waive their right of subrogation, but it is always best to make sure you have received the waiver in writing.
Those who are entitled to make an uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage claim, is any individual that was injured in the non at fault party’s vehicle regardless if they are on the insurance policy or not. The amount of coverage depends on the amount purchased and if the coverage purchased is either stacked or non-stacked. The difference between stacked and non-stacked UM/UIM coverage is if the coverage is stacked the amount of coverage is multiplied by the number of vehicles listed on the policy. If the coverage is non-stacked, then the coverage available is only that of the purchased amount regardless of how many vehicles are covered under the policy.
An example of how UM coverage works, if an individual is a passenger in a vehicle that is rear ended by another vehicle and the person suffers an injury, they have a right to make a claim. If the at fault person has Bodily injury coverage, then the injured passenger would pursue a claim against them first. If the vehicle they were has UM coverage, then that is the Host vehicle and they are entitled to that coverage. And if that injured passenger has UM on their own personal auto policy, they also have the right to present a claim for injuries to that insurance as well for additional UM coverage.
UM claims can only be made by an individual who is not at fault for an accident and has suffered an injury. UM claim cannot be made if the person causes the accident. For example, if a person crashes into a tree or light pole, they cannot pursue a UM claim they are at fault for the incident.
Oftentimes, your insurance company may not want to pay you under your uninsured/underinsured insurance claim, and you may have to file a lawsuit to have the court decide your claim. First, you will have to file a CNR – a Civil Remedies Notice with the Department of Insurance in order to give proper notice before filing your lawsuit. Once the CRN has been it gives the insurance company the time to decided if they will pay out on the claim, if they continue to not make an offer for settlement or a reasonable offer to settled the claim then the claimant may pursue filing suit against the UM insurance company for the full value of the claim.