One of the most difficult parts of our job as personal injury attorneys is to tell someone, people who have been injured in a car accident, that we are unable to handle their case because there is not adequate insurance coverage. Florida law requires a very minimum amount of car insurance coverage. Some people refer to this as “full coverage,” but I assure you it far from “full.”
Here is a list of the minimum car insurance coverage requirements in Florida, often otherwise known as “full coverage”:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – You must have $10,000 of PIP coverage to cover some of your medical bills and lost wages. Medical bills are paid at 80% after adjustments are typically applied, and lost wages are paid at 60% of the gross wages lost up to a total amount of $10,000.
- Property damage (PD) – You must have $10,000 of property damage to pay for the other person’s car repairs if you caused the car accident.
That is it! That is all of the car insurance coverage that is required for a motor vehicle that is driven on the roads in Florida. It makes total sense that you would want to save money on car insurance, but purchasing insurance that merely has these minimum limits may cause serious financial issues for you and your family if you are in a car accident with someone who has purchased the same minimum insurance coverage, or perhaps even worse if you are in an accident with someone who is part of the 26.7% of uninsured drivers in Florida. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), Florida has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the country by a full 3%, (Mississippi is second at 23.7%). Over 50% have the minimum PIP and PD coverage. It is, therefore, more likely than not that you will not be adequately covered if you are involved in a car accident in Florida unless you purchase the car insurance coverage that you should have. This insurance coverage and a brief description of each is as follows:
- Collision Coverage – This insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your vehicle if:
• The damage to your car exceeds the $10,000 in property damage coverage.
• The driver at fault is driving without any car insurance; or
• You caused the accident.
- GAP Coverage – This protects you if your car is financed and it is worth less than the amount of your bank loan (in other words, you are upside down in your loan). If you are in a motor vehicle accident and your car is totaled, and you owe more than your car is worth, GAP coverage will pay the difference. Otherwise, you will be responsible for covering the difference. (This is typically purchased from the dealership when you purchase your car. Important note – remove this GAP coverage when the car is worth more than the bank loan, or you are otherwise no longer upside down.)
- Medical Payments (Med Pay) Coverage – Pays for medical expenses that PIP does not cover. (PIP covers 80% of medical bills, and medical payments coverage can be used to cover the 20% portion that PIP does not cover).
- Extended PIP Coverage – This provides additional PIP coverage and security in the event that your medical expenses and/or lost wages exceed the $10,000 standard PIP limitation.
- Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Coverage – If you were at fault in a motor vehicle accident, this provides insurance coverage to pay for injuries, outstanding expenses, and other damages that the other party sustained because of your negligence. This will protect your personal assets up to the amount of coverage that you purchase.
Furthermore, you may not purchase uninsured motorist coverage (see #6 below) unless you purchase bodily injury liability coverage.
- Uninsured (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage – This protects you and provides insurance to cover your injuries outstanding medical bills, uncompensated lost wages, and other damages when the at-fault driver in a car accident did not carry BI coverage, or enough BI coverage (in which case UM coverage is referred to as UIM, or underinsured motorist coverage).
Since over 50% of the licensed drivers in Florida do not carry BI coverage, it is imperative to protect yourself and carry UM coverage. In order to carry UM coverage, you must have BI coverage. The amount of UM coverage you have on your policy cannot exceed the amount of BI coverage you carry.
Furthermore, if you have more than one vehicle on your policy, it is highly recommended to purchase Stacked UM Coverage. This allows you to multiply the UM coverage times the number of vehicles on your policy. For example, if you purchase stacked UM coverage of $100,000/$300,000 for 2 vehicles on your policy you would have up to $200,000 of UM coverage available per person with a maximum of $600,000 per accident, (non-stacked coverage would be capped at $100,000 per person with a cap of $300,000 per accident).
Final advice – Insurance may seem expensive, especially since it is one of those intangible expenses that we all hate to spend money on. You need to protect yourself, especially since the majority of the licensed drivers in Florida have little or even no car insurance coverage. The consequences to you and your family can be devasting if you do not maintain adequate car insurance coverage. Our experienced attorneys at Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith will be happy to answer any questions about your car insurance coverage. Furthermore, please contact us if you or someone you know have been in a motor vehicle accident so we can thoroughly investigate and explain the insurance coverage that is available to you.
This blog is by attorney Glenn Siegel.