Bad economic news is also bad news for responsible drivers, according to a new study from the Insurance Research Council. ABC Action News in St. Petersburg reported Feb. 5 that the industry group predicts uninsured drivers will swell by 2.3% nationally between 2007 and 2010, to a total of 16.1% of all drivers. The organization reached that number using a projected increase in the number of unemployed workers in the U.S., noting that uninsured driving correlates with unemployment rates.
Florida already has the fifth largest percentage of uninsured drivers of any state, the group said in a press release (PDF). Using claims information involving uninsured drivers, the Insurance Research Council estimated that 23% of all Florida drivers were uninsured between 2005 and 2007. That number may be an underestimate, since it only counts uninsured drivers involved in a claim to one of the insurance companies that belong to the group. The increase in unemployment may raise that number further, raising the disturbing possibility that more than one in four Florida drivers may be driving without insurance in the next year.
Uninsured drivers are a problem for everyone because they can’t pay for any damage they cause in a Florida auto accident. If you carry only the minimum required liability insurance in Florida, you’re insured only for the damage you might cause to other people and their vehicles in an accident. Other people’s insurance should cover the damage they might do to you if they are at fault for the accident. But of course, you can’t collect on an insurance policy that doesn’t exist. You are still free to sue the at-fault driver — but most people don’t have even a fraction of the money needed to pay for a serious Florida car wreck. That may be especially true if drivers are choosing to illegally go without insurance for financial reasons.
This situation harms accident victims twice — once during the accident and again when they are saddled with medical bills, repairs and other costs caused by someone else’s careless driving. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage protects drivers in just this situation, which is why experts increasingly recommend it for Florida drivers. Unfortunately, insurance companies often find spurious reasons to deny expensive uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance claims, even when it’s clear that the claim is covered. Victims may need help from a Florida auto accident lawyer with substantial experience in insurance issues to collect the money they are entitled to.
If you or someone you love is struggling with insurance companies over an uninsured motorist claim, you don’t have to put up with it. The experienced Florida car accident attorneys at Cohn, Smith & Cohn can explain and protect your rights, negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies and, if necessary, argue aggressively on your behalf in court. We offer free consultations to all potential clients, so there’s no risk in talking to us about your case and your options. To set up your free case evaluation, contact us online today.