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Do I need uninsured motorist coverage for my car?

Car insurance is one expense that may make you cringe when you make the payment, but if you are involved in an accident, you'll be very glad you had it. There are a number of different coverage options for car insurance, and it can be confusing trying to determine what you need and don't need. One of these coverages is uninsured motorist (commonly referred to as UM or UIM) coverage.

This type of auto insurance coverage covers you, your passengers and the insured members of your household for personal injuries, damages or death in the event an accident occurs that is not your fault. The main factor in this coverage is that the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover all damages incurred by the injured party. In addition, you and the others on the insurance policy are also covered if something happens when you are injured while traveling in another person's vehicle.

The amount of damages that UM covers will vary according to both the state in which you live as well as the actual terms of your policy. UM coverage is designed to pay for those damages that exceed the bodily injury limits of the at-fault driver's insurance. The limits for UM are usually described as per person and per accident. Policy limits like $25,000/$50,000 means that each person is covered for up to $25,000 and the maximum amount that will be paid out for everyone injured in a single event is $50,000.

While UM insurance is not usually mandatory to purchase in most states, including in the Tampa, Florida, area, if you don't carry the coverage, you will be responsible for your own damages that exceed the at-fault driver's insurance policy limits. Some insurance agents have told our clients that their health insurance may pay for medical expenses, so that uninsured motorist coverage isn't necessary. If an insurance agent ever tells you that, get a new agent because they do not know what they are selling you. That information is just not accurate. UM coverage covers not only medical expenses, but other damages as well, such as past and future lost wages and past and future pain and suffering.

If you are involved in an accident with someone who doesn't have any insurance, or not enough insurance, an attorney should be your next point of contact. He or she can provide more information on how to proceed to get compensation. But to protect yourself, especially in Florida where the legislature does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability insurance and many people drive without insurance, UM coverage is a wise investment.

Source: CarInsurance.com,"Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage," accessed Dec. 22, 2015

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