As a Pasco County car accident injury attorney in practice for 18 years, I have seen a variety of strategies employed by automobile insurance companies to lowball injured car accident victims. But this time it’s different, because it’s not the normal cyclical low-balling tactics that have been prevalent in the past.
Make no mistake, the low-balling tactics are still around, and are never going away. This is why an aggressive and experienced personal injury trial attorney is so important. However, what I am observing more than ever is a highly disproportionate number of persons inadequately insured. By that, I mean that insurance companies and their agents are:
1) Not doing an adequate job of informing their insureds about the need for both liability AND uninsured motorist coverage, and/or;
2) Insurers across the board are engaged in a far more intentional scheme to limit the amount they have to pay out by selling inadequate insurance to Florida consumers.
In my opinion, the “intentional scheme” theory has some merit. To be sure, I am not laying all of the blame on the insurers. The economy of the last several years has no doubt resulted in many Florida consumers asking for the most basic coverage available. However, what I have observed through careful questioning of my own clients is that they are being encouraged to not purchase uninsured motorist coverage! Furthermore, I have had many clients with incomes or assets that would clearly warrant higher insurance limits, and they were grossly mislead be an agent as to what coverage would be in their best interest.
What’s more telling is that even “good” insurance companies that would sell adequate coverage 90% of the time are now pushing low coverage auto insurance policies. Specifically, in the past many of the better auto insurance companies nearly always wrote a minimum of $100,000 per person in Bodily Injury Liability and Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage. Now, even these companies are writing a glut of “bare bones” insurance policies, many with only $10,000 in liability or underinsured motorist coverage.
How do they get away with it? They simply push a statutory rejection notice in front of you (many times online) to create a presumption that you have been adequately informed of just how badly they are underinsuring you. In layman’s terms, this form might be translated to, “We tried to sell good insurance to our insured, but he didn’t want it.” In reality, they almost NEVER inform the insured of just how vital adequate coverage is in Florida!
The most disturbing thing about the scheme by insurers is that while it’s very good for their profit margins, it can be disastrous for their injured insured. Advice: DO NOT SIGN AN UNINSURED MOTORIST REJECTION FORM WITHOUT FIRST UNDERSTANDING IT!
The Florida Legislature needs to address these issues, and once and for all create a minimum amount of bodily injury coverage that must be purchased by all Florida motorists. This is not a radical concept, as Florida is one of only a few states in the country that does not require automobile bodily injury liability coverage.