According to an article by Dave Berman in the September 17, 2011 edition of FLORIDA TODAY, the State of Florida ranks high in uninsured drivers and only about 10% of auto insurance premiums cover the shortage. The article goes on to state that, according to new national study, if youre in a car accident in Florida, the chances are nearly 1 in 4 that the other driver doesnt have the insurance to cover your injuries.
According to the article, the Insurance Research Council estimates that 24% of Floridas drivers are uninsured, based on its national study of uninsured motorist insurance clams in relation to bodily injury claims. That ranks Florida in the top five of uninsured motorists, along with Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Nationwide, 13.8% of drivers have no insurance, the study found.
"Despite laws in many states requiring drivers to maintain insurance, about 1 in 7 motorists remains uninsured," Insurance Research Council Senior Vice President Elizabeth Sprinkel said in a statement accompanying the study. "This forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all." Sprinkel said it is "an unfortunate consequence of the economic downturn and illustrates how virtually everyone is affected by recent economic developments."
Brian Keeley, manager of All Brevard Collision, an auto body shop in Palm Bay that is part of Brevard Countys six location Craftmaster Auto Body group, is seeing it first hand. Keeley said that more people are coming in for repairs on their vehicles after being hit by uninsured motorists. He suspects thats a sign of the tough economic times, as people with tight personal budgets choose paying their mortgages and buying groceries over keeping their auto insurance current.
Jack McDermott, director of communications for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, said one factor in
Floridas relatively high ranking in the Insurance Research Council estimate of uninsured motorists may be a quirk in Floridas auto insurance rules. Florida requires drivers to have whats called personal injury protection, which covers them for up to $10,000 of their own injuries, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. But, unlike most states, it does not require drivers to have insurance covering the bodily injuries of people in other vehicles. So, while drivers might have the minimal insurance required in Florida covering $10,000 in damage to another vehicle or structure, many dont have the optional bodily injury insurance that was the focus of the Insurance Research Council study. The personal injury protection or PIP coverage has been a subject of state legislative debate because of proven and suspected fraud by Florida drivers filing claims under the "no-fault" program, including alleged staged accidents. Thats leading to proposals to change the system. "We fully anticipate that PIP reform will be one of the insurance issues on the legislative agenda next year," McDermott said.
The article further states that while not having insurance saves money for the drivers who forgo it, the costs are passed onto all other drivers. The typical Florida motorist pays $100.41 per vehicle for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage about 10% of the total premium, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Florida is the fourth most expensive state for auto insurance, with an average annual cost of $1,055 a vehicle, compared with a national average of $789, the insurance commissioners organization reported.
Danielle Deriso of West Melbourne was riding in her Toyota Camry with her husband, Sam, on Hibiscus Boulevard in Melbourne when it was hit by a vehicle driven by man with no insurance and no license in a borrowed car. The Derisos insurance picked up the cost of the repairs to their car. Danielle Deriso said she appreciates that the other driver at least stopped to check whether they were injured and give police his information. And she understands how many Florida drivers choose to go uninsured. "For some people," Deriso said, "its a choice of buying auto insurance or feeding your kids."
If you or someone that you care about has been hurt in an auto accident, you need a legal team that will fight for you and your rights every step of the way. To speak with members of the Charpentier Law Firm about your case and to find out how we can help, contact our Central Florida personal injury attorneys today.
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