If you are a regular or serious cyclist like I am, insurance coverage protecting you from all the careless Florida drivers with little or no liability insurance is an absolute must. In the unfortunate event of an accident, the cost of medical bills for injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by a driver’s neglect can mount up quickly and drastically.
Insuring yourself while riding is tied to your vehicle’s uninsured/underinsured policy. But the issue of purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is a little confusing to people. Florida is a state that has one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists. So UM coverage on your auto policy pays for the losses you suffer because of a careless or negligent driver when they do not have enough liability coverage to pay you for all the harm they cause. The question is how much coverage should you buy? My advice is to have at least $100,000 under any circumstance, and I would recommend $250,000 or more because it’s easy to incur that type of expense with any surgery and/or hospital stay.
The next question is should you buy stacked or unstacked insurance? A stacked policy works in a straightforward fashion. With two cars on the same policy you buy stacked UM, which doubles the available uninsured motorist coverage. For example, a $100,000/$300,000 policy would become a $200,000/$600,000 policy, meaning that each individual would be protected up to $200,000, but they would share a $600,000 amount if there are multiple people, with no one person receiving more than $200,000.
It may seem counterintuitive, but buying stacked uninsured motorist coverage is the wisest thing to do, even if you have only one vehicle, and is what Florida law presumes you intend to do. When you stack UM, it broadens the area of application. In many situations you need stacked UM coverage to receive the UM benefits when non-stacked coverage might not pay the full policy or even not at all. Here’s one instance in particular. Say you are riding in a friend’s vehicle and that person has UM coverage. In the case of an accident, if you have stacked UM, your UM policy could be available to you in addition to the UM coverage of your friend’s policy
Florida has a strong public policy backed by a long history of court decisions affirming the role of stacking UM. Our law presumes you intend to buy stacking UM when you add UM to your auto policy. If you decide to opt for non-stacking UM or UM in an amount less than the amount of liability insurance on your policy, the agent is required to have you sign a form rejecting stacked UM and/or selecting an amount of UM less than your bodily injury liability. The form starts by declaring “you are giving up valuable coverage.” This warning should make you stop and ask questions. Selecting low or no UM or unstacked UM is not a smart choice to make to save a few dollars on your car insurance.
Buying UM coverage and stacked coverage will increase your insurance premium slightly. But the relatively small upcharge is definitely worth it in the event of a collision that involves serious injury.
Click here to get a free review of your auto insurance. I will be happy to look at your auto policy, make recommendations for coverage, and answer any questions you may have on the subject. I’m not selling insurance but want to protect cyclists with the type of coverage they feel comfortable having. It’s good to be responsibly proactive when you’re riding on roads alongside so many others who don’t have adequate or even any insurance.
At Jim Dodson Law, we are especially committed to helping cyclists. If you’ve been involved in a bike or motor vehicle crash anywhere in Florida and you need help, please give us a call. We will do our very best to walk you through any issues or answer questions you have about UM coverage or anything else. Meanwhile, ride and drive safely!