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Got U.M.?

Most of you are probably trying to figure out what the letters U.M. stand for. That’s ok, you are not alone. In fact you are in the great majority of Americans. The subject of this article is car insurance. Wait, don't stop reading. It may not sound interesting, and arguably it's not, but it is very important for you and your family.

U.M. stands for Uninsured Motorist. This is a type of car insurance that is available in Florida. Have you heard of it? Do you even know what type of coverage you have on your own automobile? Most people don't. I wish I had a dollar for every time a client has told me that they have "full coverage". Rarely, does it turn out to be true. Usually, it’s those people that have the minimum insurance required by law.

Under Florida law, if you own an automobile, you must have certain basic coverage. This mandatory coverage includes, P.I.P. (Personal Injury Protection, a.k.a. No Fault) and Property Damage Liability. That is it. If you have these two coverages, you can lawfully drive in this state. P.I.P will pay 80% of your medical expenses up to your policy limit, which is typically

$10,000.00. Property damage liability will pay for the other driver's car damage if ''you" caused the accident.

Now, imagine you are driving to the beach with your family and you are involved in a collision. You and your family are all hurt and it was not your fault. Now imagine that the other driver only had the minimum mandatory coverage or no coverage at all. Who is going to pay your excess medical bills? What about your pain and suffering? What if one of your children will need expensive · surgery? Even if the other driver did have bodily injury liability coverage, it is typically only $10,000.00. How long do you think that will last with hospital bills and surgical costs? What if you can't work while you recover? The answer to all these questions is "U.M.". If you carry uninsured motorist coverage, you are insuring yourself and your family from the real possibility of substantial losses due to an uninsured or underinsured driver.

I have interviewed thousands of people who have been severely injured by uninsured drivers. If they didn't carry U.M., then there was nothing I could do for them. You may be thinking, why don't you sue the other driver? Well, of course you can. However, this is analogous to a dog chasing his tail in a circle. Most people do not have attachable assets. That means that even if you get a judgment against them, you will never collect any money. Therefore, most attorneys will not sue an uninsured driver, unless you pay by the hour, which can be expensive and virtually futile.

So, it is up to you to protect yourself and your family from tragedy. You may be thinking that you pay enough for car insurance and you can't afford it. The truth is, you can't afford not to carry it. If it’s the cost that has prevented you from carrying U.M., then pay attention. It’s probably the cheapest type of coverage on your policy. On a standard one-car policy with an annual cost of $1000.00, the uninsured motorist premium is around $28.00. This is far and away the least expensive of all available coverages. That means that for $28.00 dollars per year, you would have $10,000.00 of uninsured motorist coverage. Think of the protection this would give you for such a nominal price. As you increase the coverage, the premium goes up accordingly, but remains the cheapest of all the coverages.

Did you know that you could decline most all coverages, by simply telling your agent verbally. That is not true for U.M. If you reject uninsured motorist coverage, it must be done in writing. Florida Statute 627.727 requires a signed written rejection. The heading of the form must be in 12- point bold type and shall state: "You are electing not to purchase certain valuable coverage which protects you and your family ... when you sign this form. Please read carefully". The legislature recognizes how important this coverage is to its citizens. They wanted to make certain that an individual was properly informed of the value of this coverage and knowingly declined it.

Please, when you get home, take out your insurance policy. Look at the front page where it lists your coverages' and premium costs. See if you have U.M. If you don't, then call your agent and demand it. Protect yourself and your family from potential tragedy. Educate your family and friends. Someone you know or love is going to be involved in an automobile accident. Remember, friends don't let friends drive without U.M.


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