Got your attention, didn’t I? Although what I have to say might not be what you expect, it is important information, so get your mind out of the gutter.
If you have ever spoken to me personally about what I do, or networked in any way with me, you’ve heard me say it: In Florida, you’ve GOT to carry UM/UIM on your auto policy.
What is UM/UIM?
UM or UIM are short for Un- (or) Under-Insured Motorist Coverage. Florida is what I always lovingly refer to as a “protect yourself” state. Every (Florida) driver on the road is required to carry certain types of insurance, but NOT the insurance (called Bodily Injury Liability coverage, or “BI”) that pays for medical damages caused to other people.
Like it or not, that’s how our legislature has decided to do it so far, although this year we are making some strides toward becoming a “Mandatory BI” state. For now, though, what do we do?
We make sure that we PROTECT OURSELVES. This is where UM/UIM coverage comes in. If you are involved in an accident, carrying UM/UIM coverage is a lifesaver when the at-fault party either doesn’t carry the optional BI coverage, or doesn’t carry enough BI coverage to compensate you for the injuries you have suffered.
Explained simply, let’s assume you are in a crash (without fault) and suffer severe injuries requiring neck surgery. In this scenario, let’s also assume the at-fault driver does not carry BI coverage, and you end up with over $100k in bills (easier to accomplish than you might think).
If you don’t carry UM/UIM on your own auto policy, you are largely out of options to reimburse you for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, future expenses, etc. — unless the at-fault party is independently wealthy (logically, this would be unlikely if he has chosen not to carry BI, which would help to protect his own assets).
If, however, you’ve added UM/UIM coverage to your policy, we — yes, we — are able to present your claim to your own insurance carrier. (For the love of all things, please hire an attorney.)
So what does it mean to stack your coverage?
Let’s take this one step further, and discuss how you might greatly increase your UM/UIM coverage by stacking it.
Stacking UM/UIM coverage allows an insured to multiply his/her UM/UIM coverage by (1) the number of cars on said policy; or (2) the number of owned cars, even if on separate policies. For example, if you insure three cars on your policy and stack your $100k per person/300k per accident coverage, your coverage limits automatically increase to limits of $300K per person/$900k per accident.
It is a great way to increase limits for relatively little money. More importantly, Florida law is tricky when it comes to when you are riding in a vehicle you don’t own. What you are able to do with your UM/UIM coverage depends on whether your policies are stacked, whether the vehicle you were in carried UM/UIM, etc.
And why is this all very likely news to you?
These are things most insurance agents simply don’t share with you. UM/UIM coverage is not all that expensive to add to your policy. However, for your insurance carrier, the financial detriment associated with selling it to you outweighs the benefit. For this reason, there is very little, if any, actual time spent discussing UM/UIM coverage, or its benefit to you.
Florida law requires insurance companies offer UM/UIM coverage and get a waiver of UM/UIM coverage if you don’t want it. But that is accomplished very easily with a “sign here” in an online application, which is how most are done these days.
I would bet my 401(k) that more than 50% of you reading this don’t carry UM/UIM, and that you don’t even know it – or, that if you do carry UM/UIM, you had no idea about the option to stack it.
Check your policies. Carry UM/UIM coverage. And remember how good it is to be STACKED!