When Should You Make an Uninsured Motorist Claim?

In Florida, all drivers must carry a minimum amount of auto insurance, with policies covering at least $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability.

The problem is that many Florida motorists ignore these laws and continue to drive while carrying little to no insurance coverage. If you get into a car accident with one of these drivers, you may need to make a claim with your own auto insurance provider through your uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. This is usually the case if the other driver’s liability coverage (or lack thereof) is insufficient to cover the injuries or property damage you’ve sustained.

In these situations, your first thought may be to sue the at-fault driver. This could be possible if the person in question is wealthy, but that’s rarely the case for those who drive without insurance. Often, they are doing so because they cannot afford insurance coverage in the first place. If they do not have the income or assets to compensate you, a lawsuit would be fruitless.

To that end, you should start the process of filing an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance carrier as soon as you find out the individual responsible for your accident does not have adequate coverage. You can usually determine this immediately after the accident, as law enforcement officers called to the scene will ask all parties involved for proof of auto insurance.

What do uninsured motorist policies cover?

When purchasing an auto insurance policy, it’s wise to also get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This additional coverage can be relatively inexpensive and be of great assistance in the event of a car accident.

It’s important to note that there are slight differences between uninsured and underinsured motorist policies. An uninsured motorist policy will cover you if the at-fault driver has no insurance at all, and thus cannot even begin to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. An underinsured motorist policy, meanwhile, fills the gap between the limits of the other driver’s coverage and the full costs of your injuries and property damage.

For example, imagine you get into a car accident and the medical bills to treat your injuries total about $18,000. If the person responsible for the crash had personal injury liability coverage limited to $10,000, you would need to file a claim under your own policy to cover the remaining $8,000.

If you do need to file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your insurance company, you should do so quickly. There are often tight time limits—sometimes as little as 30 days—imposed on these claims. You should also be on the lookout for insurance companies acting in bad faith. Insurers often thoroughly investigate the extent of any injuries and property damage to limit the amount of compensation they must pay out.

For further information and guidance if you need to make a claim after a Florida car accident, meet with a skilled Orlando auto insurance claims attorney at Johnson & Williams, P.A.