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From SPF to UM – a beginner’s guide to living in Florida

  • By:Kristin Wolfrum

Next week marks 11 years since I packed up my blue Honda Civic and drove from ‘Burgh (Pittsburgh) to ‘Burg (St. Petersburg). I have lived in Florida since that blistering June day when my two cats and I arrived at our new home and waited weeks for the balance of my belongings to arrive.

I traded my ice scraper for sunglasses, and while I may not be a Florida native (you’ll find those few and far between!), I have learned a lot about what one needs as a resident of the Sunshine State.

Here are the top 10 essentials:

Sunscreen: Protect your precious skin from harmful UV rays. Nothing says “Ouch” like a blistering burn, and you’ll protect yourself from pain, discomfort, premature aging and skin cancer by lathering up early and often with SPF 30 or higher.

An umbrella: It doesn’t take long to learn that the summer storms are so predictable you can set a clock by them. The rain showers, wind and lightning are no joke. When in doubt, grab your umbrella.

Focused driving: Whether you blame it on diverging diamonds, snow birds or tourists, traffic is a necessary evil in Florida, no matter if you’re in Tallahassee, Lakewood Ranch or Fort Lauderdale. Add in any type of impairment or distraction and you’re asking for trouble. Do not drink and drive, and do not text. Bottom line: When you’re behind the wheel, focus on the road.

Fully functional windshield wipers: If you are stuck on the road in a Florida downpour, you owe it to yourself (and other drivers) to have operational windshield wipers, with wiper blades that are not worn, unattached or missing.  Also, if your wipers are on, your headlights should be on, too.

Knowledge of the law regarding hazard lights in the rain: In Florida, turning on your hazard lights in the rain could result in a ticket. It is illegal, and hazard lights should only be used when your vehicle is in a stationary position (unless you’re part of a funeral procession).

Water: Your body uses water in a variety of ways. Staying properly hydrated can help in preventing daytime fatigue, maintaining proper circulation and regulating your body’s cooling system.

A sweater, sweatshirt or cardigan: Because even if it is hot as Hades outside, the air conditioning wherever you’re going will be reminiscent of the Arctic.

A favorite beach: There is no shortage of beautiful, sandy beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Deciding on a preferred spot could be influenced by traffic, location or nearby restaurants. From Pass-A-Grille to Anna Maria Island to Siesta Key, you can’t go wrong.

SunPass: In your Florida travels, you’ll likely come across toll roads. SunPass is an electronic toll collection system that makes paying these tolls more efficient and often cheaper. Purchase a transponder (available at a variety of distributors, including Publix and CVS), load up your prepaid account and enjoy the ease and convenience of paying tolls without digging for change.

UM insurance: Underinsured motorist coverage or uninsured motorist is key because the state of Florida does not require motorists to carry bodily injury coverage. Essentially, if you are in a car accident, the person who hits you may not have bodily injury coverage and therefore no coverage to extend to you for your injuries. UM coverage does not pay for damage to your car but does provide payment for injuries caused by an auto accident in which the at-fault driver is uninsured (has no insurance) or under-insured (not enough insurance). UM coverage can pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, long term nursing care, services that you are no longer able to perform (cleaning, lawn care, etc.) and modifications needed for your home due to disabilities caused by the accident.

Floridians can protect themselves in a variety of ways, from increasing their SPF to purchasing UM insurance. For a few hundred dollars a year, you can be covered in the event that you are involved in a crash with an uninsured (or underinsured) driver.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, contact Luhrsen Goldberg at 941-212-2600 for a free consultation. Our attorneys, based in Lakewood Ranch and always armed with their umbrellas and sunscreen, have 25 years of experience and have established a reputation as skilled and trustworthy advocates for personal injury victims.

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Posted in: Distracted Driving, Florida, Florida Laws, Uninsured Motorist