The History of Florida’s Uninsured Motorist Law
Florida’s current uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist law has its roots from the Florida Supreme Court decision, Mullis v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 252 So.2d 229. In that decision, involving an automobile accident, the Florida Supreme Court took a very liberal position on the intent of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM) in the State of Florida. It was determined that uninsured motorist coverage was statutorily intended to provide the equivalent of automobile liability coverage to an insured that was injured by a driver who didn’t have any bodily injury insurance coverage at the time of the accident. In other words, UM coverage was established to protect a driver when an uninsured motorist negligently hits them, inflicting bodily injury or death on them, on any of his family relatives resident in the household or on any other lawful occupant of the insured’s automobile covered by the insured’s automobile liability policy.
The court determined that in order to achieve this intent and provide coverage during an automobile accident or motorcycle accident, an insurance company could have no policy exclusions that limited coverage to the insured, any of his family relatives or residents in household or any other lawful occupant of the vehicle. It was also established that uninsured motorist coverage had to be afforded in the same amount as the liability insurance purchased by the insured.
The initial effects of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
This decision had far reaching implications on Florida’s automobile and motorcycle insurance. The effect of the statute allowed one family member of a household to purchase uninsured motorist coverage on one vehicle and have that coverage protect every member of the household and every vehicle in the household whether or not those vehicles had an active uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. In addition, if there were multiple vehicles in the household that had uninsured motorist coverage, a named insured or resident relative could recover or “stack” the uninsured motorist benefits off of each insured vehicle.
The insurance companies’ reaction
Insurance companies were clearly unhappy with the prospect of insuring an unknown number of potential vehicles and an unknown number of potential individuals under an insurance policy providing uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage on one vehicle for one insured. As a result, a new statute, F.S. §627.727 came into existence.
F.S. §627.727(1) states that no motor vehicle liability insurance policy which provides bodily injury liability coverage can be issued in the State of Florida unless uninsured motor vehicle coverage is provided in the same amount as the liability limits. However, this insurance can be waived, a lower limit can be selected or non-stacking uninsured motorist coverage can be selected if a named insured on the policy signs a waiver of uninsured motorist or election of lower limits form approved by the Florida Department of Insurance. However, the statute is clear that if the insurance company cannot provide one of these statutorily approved forms signed by the claimant, UM coverage must be afforded at a limit equal to the bodily injury limits and on a “stacked” basis.
In order to balance the desires of the State of Florida to provide uninsured motorist benefits to protect its citizens from the negligence of uninsured motorists against the insurance company’s desire to receive premiums for the coverage that they provide on the vehicles that they insure, F.S. §627.727(9) was created. F.S. §627.727(9) provides that insurance companies can have certain exclusions to uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provided that the premium charged for this limited form of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage be 20% cheaper. This provision was the catalyst for the distinction between “stacking” and “non-stacking” uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in Florida.
Stacking vs. non-stacking coverage
Stacking uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is a more expensive insurance coverage that does not have any exclusions or limitations. If an insured person is injured in a car accident by a negligent driver (who is uninsured or underinsured) they can use their UM to receive coverage or “stack” the uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits from every insured vehicle in their household.
Non-stacking uninsured motorist coverage is 20% cheaper; however, it has several exclusions which limit the applicability of that coverage. The two most important exclusions or limitations are: (1) that you can receive the uninsured motorist benefits off the particular insured vehicle that you are operating at the time of the car accident and not from any other insured vehicles insured in your household that have this limited form of um coverage; and (2) no UM coverage provided by the policy will apply to the named insured or resident relatives who are injured while occupying any vehicle owned by such insured or their resident relatives for which uninsured motorist coverage was not purchased.
Motorcycle owners should have stacking uninsured motorist coverage!
Non-stacking uninsured motorist coverage also states that a family cannot insure one motor vehicle for uninsured motorist coverage and have it apply to every vehicle in the household. For many vehicle owners, particularly those who own motorcycles, this may be detrimental if they are involved in a motorcycle crash. Since motorcycle owners in the state of Florida are not required to have mandated coverage like they do for their motor vehicle, they may not be able to receive any help from their insurance company to help pay their medical bills after a crash occurs. If a motorcycle owner has stacking uninsured motorist insurance on their automobile, however, this coverage will apply to them while operating their owned but uninsured motorcycle. However, if the individual has non-stacking insurance on their automobile, then the owned but uninsured exclusion would prohibit that uninsured motorist coverage from being accessed if the individual was injured while operating their non-insured motorcycle.
Get the right coverage for you
The injuries that result from an auto accident or motorcycle accident can create significant financial burdens. Purchasing stacked uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides significantly broader and more coverage to protect you or a resident relative if they are injured in a car accident, truck accident or motorcycle accident, regardless if that vehicle is insured or owned by you or someone else. Since Florida is only one of a handful of states that does not mandate automobile liability insurance, never reject or limit uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
This information has been brought to you by the Daytona Beach accident attorneys at Rue & Ziffra, All of our clients’ claims are handled directly by practiced attorneys who know the particulars of motorcycle accidents and automobile accidents. If you or a loved one have been involved in a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, remember that you can always seek legal help from a personal injury lawyer. Rue & Ziffra proudly serves areas throughout Volusia County and Flagler County, Florida including, Port Orange, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Flagler, DeLand, Deltona, Bunnell, Orange City, Sanford, Orlando and Leesburg.
The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.