Fact: 23.8% of Florida drivers are uninsured, the second highest percentage of any state in the country.
Fact: The only way to protect yourself in an accident is to purchase the maximum amount of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage you can afford. When you are involved in a motorcycle accident and the other driver’s insurance is not high enough to cover you, UM insurance will pay for damages recoverable under law, such as bodily injuries, loss of life, emotional damages, past lost wages, and future loss of earning capacity.
Fact: In the US, an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents in 2013 (the most recent year for which statistics are available).
Fact: Most motorcyclists believe that they won’t be involved an accident, but if they are, that the other driver will have adequate insurance. Our experience as a law firm that has handled thousands of motorcycle and car accident cases proves otherwise.

Read these two case studies of recent DWKMRS clients to learn how their lives were changed by uninsured drivers while they were on their bikes.

Case Study #1:

In one Florida case, handled by DWKMRS attorney Tony Sos, a 46-year-old motorcyclist was struck by a driver who ran a stop sign. A medical helicopter transport saved the client’s life, but the injuries he incurred will result in lifelong orthopedic and cognitive issues.

Despite the fact that the other driver was operating a government vehicle and therefore had protection under Florida law due to sovereign immunity, Sos was able to prove the government’s liability and negotiated a settlement in excess of the statutory caps to help him with his past and future financial needs. The motorcyclist is now permanently disabled, and UM coverage would have helped achieve a better recovery for him.

Case Study #2:

In another case, handled by Board Certified Trial Lawyer Brian Wilson of DWKMRS, a middle-aged motorcyclist riding on a busy Orlando road was pinned against a light post by a car pulling out of a Target parking lot, resulting in the amputation of his leg.

The other driver was determined to be at fault, but was barely covered by a minimal $10,000 liability policy. Because our client only purchased uninsured motorist coverage on his personal automobile but not his motorcycle, his claim was excluded under the terms of his UM policy. And because the other driver had no other assets to help cover medical bills, our client only received the $10,000 policy limit, even though he suffered devastating injuries.

While we were able to help these drivers and their families, their settlements would have been more had the parties purchased the maximum uninsured motorist coverage for their motorcycles on their insurance policies.

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We want you to be informed about this coverage so you can understand how valuable UM insurance is to you and your family.

Have more questions? We’ve got answers.

How is uninsured motorist insurance different from liability insurance?
Liability coverage–which is composed of bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage–pays for injuries and damage that you cause in an accident. Liability insurance does not pay for your own injuries or damage. If you are injured in an accident caused by another driver, their insurance should pay for your medical bills, car or motorcycle repair, and lost wages.

Unless, of course, that driver is uninsured. That’s when your uninsured motorist coverage comes in: to pay for you and your passengers’ injuries and damages when the other driver’s insurance can’t. Basically, UM coverage replaces the liability coverage that the other driver should have been insured with.

What is the difference between stacked and unstacked UM coverage?
Florida law allows drivers to stack their UM coverage, which means you can combine your policy limits to increase coverage for the drivers on the same policy.

Check out the following example:

A Florida household with 2 cars and a motorcycle insures each vehicle separately with a 50/100 UM non-stacked policy. Those numbers mean that if the driver of one of those cars gets into an accident with an uninsured motorist, then insurance will pay a maximum of $50,000 for any one person in (or on) the vehicle, and a maximum of $100,000 for all the people in the vehicle. If that household pays to stack their coverage between vehicles, then that coverage multiplies from 50/100 to 150/300, because all of their vehicles’ policies kick in to cover the driver (or rider) and his passengers.

Unstacked UM coverage means that each of those 50k policies applies to just the driver and the occupants of that vehicle, and not the other cars in the household.

Is it possible to stack UM coverage from your automobile over to your motorcycle?
In Florida, yes. The key here is to select stacking coverage for each vehicle, and then pay to stack those coverages. We always suggest stacking insurance on all the vehicles you own.
What are your recommended minimum coverages?
Long story short: buy as much UM coverage for your motorcycle (and vehicles) as you can afford. 100/300 coverage is a good starting point. These numbers mean that the most insurance will pay for injuries and lost wages for any one person in the accident is $100,000. If multiple people are injured, total payments are capped at $300,000.
Why is it important to have UM coverage even if you have health and/or disability insurance?
Because health insurance doesn’t cover lost wages, or the pain and suffering and change in lifestyle that stem from catastrophic injuries. UM payments will also cover other out-of-pocket costs that can mount quickly, such as copays and deductibles, and take care of any future medical expenses resulting from an accident.
What is different about Florida’s UM coverage (as compared to other states)?
In Florida, the law has consistently been interpreted to maximize coverage for drivers and their passengers. It’s rare in Florida for any laws to favor the consumer, but this is one situation where consumers really benefit from the rules about stacking insurance.

In addition, there are states around the country in which you are not allowed to use your UM coverage if the at-fault driver has higher liability limits than your UM insurance. But for Floridians, that’s not the case, which is a great advantage for residents of our state.

Is UM insurance required in Florida?
In Florida, UM insurance is not legally required, and is often not included in “full” insurance coverage. Insurance agents don’t do a good job of explaining the significance of uninsured motorist coverage, and instead just give you a form that describes the coverage without any further explanation.
Generally speaking, what else do I need to know about UM insurance?
  • That it follows you as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
  • That you can’t buy more UM coverage than liability coverage, although stacking lets you get around that.
  • That you have very little ability to financially recover from injuries due to the negligence of an uninsured driver if you do not carry UM insurance on your policy.

With Daytona’s Biketoberfest around the corner, our roads will be even more full than usual. Whether you’re a biker or just drive an automobile, you should never decline UM insurance, you should never select lower limits just to save money, and you should always stack your coverage. Call your insurance agent today to maximize your UM policy and protect yourself and your family from the negligence of other drivers.

Contact Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier, & Sos

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