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Automobile liability insurance exists to cover the medical expenses and property damage resulting from car crashes. Many insurers offer various policy options offering different types of coverage, and the cost of maintaining a policy typically hinges on how much it can potentially cover. Some drivers opt for more thorough coverage and therefore pay much higher monthly premiums. Others who may have trouble maintaining coverage, or who believe only the minimum is necessary, pay much lower premiums, but their coverage generally isn’t very robust.
While choosing a less expensive policy may seem attractive, it’s vital to recognize the potential trouble a minimum coverage policy can cause. Every state has specific requirements for liability coverage that drivers must obtain, and accidents with underinsured drivers can quickly escalate into complex battles with multiple insurers. Florida requires every vehicle to have insurance coverage and for every driver to carry proof of insurance at all times. The minimum coverage amount for personal injury protection is $10,000, and the minimum for property damage liability is $10,000.
It may seem prudent to choose an automobile liability insurance policy that only covers the minimum, but this is rarely true. Insurance companies consider several factors when offering insurance rates to drivers including their driving history, criminal background, disabilities, age, the kinds of cars they drive, and the region in which they live. Depending on your previous driving record, you may have to purchase additional bodily injury liability insurance coverage as well.
Buying a policy with underinsured motorist coverage is always a wise choice. While the premium payments are likely higher, the peace of mind is worth it. If you can add underinsured motorist coverage to your policy it will essentially fill the gap between your losses and the coverage limits of the at-fault driver’s policy. For example, if your car accident leads to $50,000 in damages but the at-fault driver only carries the minimum ($10,000 for property damage and another $10,000 for personal injury), you would need to make a claim against your own auto insurance policy for the difference.
It’s vital to file your underinsured motorist claim as soon as possible. You’ll need to meet various criteria to succeed with your claim, and meeting filing deadlines is an important detail. After an investigation into the extent of your injuries and damages, the insurer will also investigate how much coverage the at-fault driver’s policy affords you. It can sometimes take months for an underinsured motorist claim to process.
Bear in mind that most insurance companies do not allow their customers to carry underinsured motorist coverage that totals more than their own liability coverage. This is to prevent customers from purchasing the bare minimum and then adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which is typically inexpensive on its own. Insurance companies exist to make money, and paying out on claims and providing expansive coverage with low premiums is not the most lucrative practice.
If you need to make an underinsured motorist claim, your insurance company is going to investigate every facet of claim, but they must do so in good faith. They may look for any legitimate reason to reduce a claim amount, but if they engage in any unethical or dishonest practices or offer an unfairly low claim amount, they are acting in bad faith.
If you suspect bad faith, your first step should be to reach out to a reliable lawyer who can help you draft a letter of bad faith to the insurer. In most cases, this is enough to spur them into approving a previously denied claim or increasing the amount originally offered. However, this isn’t always enough to secure the coverage you need after an accident with an underinsured motorist.
Contact David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. if you’ve had an accident in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with an underinsured motorist. We understand how tricky these cases become and the difficulties that easily arise from bad faith insurance practices. Reach out to David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale today to schedule a consultation, and we’ll let you know how we can help.