Our firm consists of lawyers, not auto insurance agents. Nonetheless, we
often advise our clients to get a form of auto insurance called
uninsured motorist coverage. That coverage pays in the place of the at-fault driver when that driver
has (1) no insurance of their own, or (2) inadequate insurance to cover
the injured person's damages. Basically, it kicks in to pay an injured
person's damages when the responsible person won't or can't.
Some people have trouble understanding why they should pay for coverage
to protect themselves from the negligence of others. Today's insurance
advertising illustrates why, for all the wrong reasons.
In a TV ad called "Lollipop," a fictional former race car driver,
J.J Hightail, talks about why one should buy Direct Auto Insurance. Hightail
says he loves cars, but doesn't love car insurance. "If the law
didn't make me have it, I wouldn't," he says. Hightail then
explains that while he'll buy the insurance the law requires, "I'm
not paying more than I have to" because "that's for suckers."
Extra coverage, according to Hightail, is "sugar coated nonsense."
Through this ad, Direct seems to be saying you're foolish if you buy
more than the legal mandatory minimum auto coverage. Unfortunately, that
extra "sugar coated nonsense" includes coverage for harm you
cause to others through your own negligence. That type of insurance protection,
usually referred to as bodily injury liability coverage, is not mandatory
for most drivers in Florida. It is therefore, according to the logic of
Hightail and Direct, an unnecessary coverage which is only "for suckers."
In other words, we have an insurance company encouraging people to buy
nothing more than the law requires. Implicitly, that means people who
follow that suggestion will not be protecting others from the consequences
of any driving mistake they make.
This is not to single out Direct. Many auto insurers now pitch their products
with a focus on promised savings. For example, Progressive offers a name
your price tool. Geico gears its advertising toward saving 15-percent
and basically not giving money away. In fact, there is very little auto
insurance advertising these days encouraging consumers to pay a little
more for adequate coverage and legal protection.
The number of underinsured drivers on Florida roads is already alarming.
With so much insurance advertising done in a race-to-the-bottom way, that
number is not likely to get better any time soon. It could even get worse
as people respond to current advertising by cutting corners on their auto
In other words, the only person who might protect you from the negligence
of others is you. That's why we encourage our clients and friends
to buy uninsured motorist coverage before they get out on the roads in Florida.