Frequently Asked Questions - What Do I Do If I'm In An Accident With An Uninsured Driver?
Uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most important coverages you can have on your insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage is extremely important because it covers you, your immediate family who reside with you, and anyone traveling in your vehicle at the time of an auto accident that you are not at fault for. The State of Florida does not require bodily injury coverage on auto insurance policies, unlike most other states. Bodily Injury coverage is a coverage you pay for on your insurance policy which covers settlement for any injuries sustained to anyone injured in an auto accident in which you are found to be at fault. You should try to carry bodily injury coverage if you can afford it on your auto insurance policy because it protects you in case someone brings a claim against you for injuries. If you cause an accident and the other party decides to sue your insurance company and you have bodily injury coverage, this will protect you from potentially being sued personally. If you cause an accident and you do not have bodily injury coverage, you can be sued personally for any assets you may have, your wages can be garnished and you could be forced to acquire SR-22 insurance to prove to the State that you are fully insured.
When you are hit by someone who does not have bodily injury coverage and you sustain injuries, you can turn to your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to protect you. Uninsured motorist coverage covers any injuries you have sustained in an auto accident by someone who does not have bodily injury coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage covers any injuries you have sustained in an auto accident by someone who does not have enough bodily injury coverage to compensate you for your damages. You can only present an underinsured motorist claim if you have first obtained the entire bodily injury policy limits from the at-fault parties' insurance policy. For example, if your medical bills are approximately $100,000.00 and the at-fault party only carries a $10,000.00 bodily injury policy, you will send your claim to the at-fault insurance company who will more than likely then tender their entire $10,000.00 policy limits to you. You can then submit that proof to your underinsured motorist carrier along with your claim who will then process it and make an offer to settle the underinsured motorist claim. You can purchase as much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as you need or can afford to cover you, your resident relatives, and anyone else in your vehicle.
If you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle and you are hit by an uninsured driver, the primary source of uninsured motorist coverage will be the coverage for the vehicle you are traveling in at the time of the accident. If there is no uninsured motorist coverage available to that vehicle, you can then look to your own insurance policy and use your own uninsured motorist coverage if you have it. If you are a pedestrian or a bicyclist and you are struck by an uninsured vehicle, you can also use your uninsured motorist coverage from your auto policy as it is considered an auto accident.
If you are involved in an auto accident with someone who is uninsured and your vehicle is damaged, you will be required to pursue the damage claim with your own insurance carrier. You can only do this if you have collision coverage on your policy. Collision coverage is another extremely important coverage to have as, like uninsured motorist coverage which covers your injuries to your body, collision coverage covers any damage to your vehicle. If you are involved in an auto accident with an uninsured motorist and you do not have collision coverage, you will be unable to get your vehicle repaired. Neither insurance company can pay for your damages under that scenario. If you have a deductible on your collision coverage, your damages will have to exceed the deductible amount before the insurance company will pay for any repairs. For example, if your vehicle has sustained $400.00 in damages and your deductible is $500.00, you would have to pay the $400.00 out of pocket in order to get your vehicle repaired and the insurance company would not have to be involved. If your vehicle sustains $1,000.00 in damage and your deductible is $500.00, your insurance company will pay $500.00 and you will be responsible for the remaining $500.00. If your vehicle is totaled in an accident with an uninsured driver, your insurance company will pay for the amount the vehicle is worth and no more than that out of your collision coverage. Your insurance company will work with your finance company if your vehicle is financed and they will pay off the vehicle directly to the finance company.
If your vehicle needs to be repaired and must be in the body shop for several days, usually the at-fault insurance company will place you in a rental vehicle which they will pay for. This is included in the property damage coverage for the at-fault vehicle’s auto insurance policy. In the instance of an accident with an uninsured driver, you must have rental coverage on your policy for your insurance company to place you in a rental. If you chose not to select rental vehicle coverage on your policy, you run the risk of being without a vehicle in the event of an accident, especially an accident with an uninsured vehicle.
There are so many reasons why you should be prepared in the event of an accident as you never know who is driving without insurance coverage. It is much better to be covered yourself to the best of your ability than it is to rely on other people to have the coverage to protect you. If you have been involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver and you have several questions or you’re injured and unsure how to proceed, the most important thing you can do is hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your benefits to you and fight for your rights. An insurance adjuster’s goal is to save their company as much money as possible and payout the least amount of money towards claims brought against them, so having an attorney on your side is the best route to take to ensure you receive all coverages available to you in the event you are struck by an uninsured vehicle.