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Snowbirds, Uninsured Motorists can Cause Havoc

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 10, 2010 8:48 AM

It's the time of year when the snowbirds take flight and drive down to the Sunbelt to become part-time residents of Florida, Arizona and other warmer climates. This may present an often unrecognized hazard to other motorists in the area. Residents who only spend part of the year in a given area may or may not fully insure the vehicle they use while there.

In a still-struggling economy, you can count on the fact that if there is a choice to save or spend, people will save. And that can cost you.

If you are hit and injured by another driver (be they snowbird or local) who is an underinsured or uninsured motorist, you will want to look to your own insurance to make up the difference for your expenses. A policy for uninsured/underinsured motorist (UI insurance) is the one you should turn to.

Your UI policy will take effect if the driver at fault in an accident was uninsured, underinsured or otherwise insufficiently covered. One example would include an at-fault driver who used a vehicle without its owner's permission.

In these types of situations, car accident victims can look to their own policies to pay medical bills, make up for lost wages, even cover pain and suffering, if they have the proper coverage. For instance, in California, many drivers in that sunny state carry only the minimum required liability insurance of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident. If the at-fault driver in an accident has this minimum coverage and your expenses exceed that amount, the difference can be made up by your UI insurance up to that policy's limits. A recommended amount for a UI policy would be $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident.

In Florida, a state with many part-time snowbirds, the law only requires drivers to carry personal injury protection coverage that amounts to a limit of $10,000 for medical expenses and lost wages, according to an article by PRWeb. These limits make having UI insurance a very good idea. Medical expenses can easily exceed the limit and without a lawsuit (costing more) or additional coverage, an accident victim could just remain unpaid.

So as we head into the time for snowy weather and possibly lots of underinsured motorists, pull out your policy and take a hard look at your coverage. It might be worth spending a bit more now to save a lot of money and pain later.

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