Car insurance can be confusing. What type of insurance do you have? If you are injured in a car accident, will you have enough coverage to protect yourself and your family? Will you be able to get a rental car? How much medical coverage do you have? Will you be covered for injuries that require future medical treatment? This Glassman & Zissimopulos article is designed to provide an overview of the different types of car insurance coverages available to drivers in Florida.
No matter who you are, or what your background is, any time you get behind the wheel of a car you are put at the mercy of the decisions and actions of other drivers. Often, when someone is in a car crash caused by another person, there is little to no coverage available to offset the costs from injuries and damages obtained. Many people are under the misconception that most drivers out there have ‘good’ insurance, let alone, that they have insurance at all. Despite 49 states requiring some degree of car insurance, many people unlawfully drive without any form of insurance. In fact, a recent study directed by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), found that while 13 percent of all U.S. motorists were uninsured in 2015, that number is over 25 percent in the State of Florida and it continues to rise. That means that in Florida, if you are crashed into by another driver, there is at least a one-in-four chance that the driver does not have any type of insurance coverage. Even if you’re one of the “lucky” ones that is hit by someone with insurance, it does not mean that the insurance coverage is good enough to cover all the damages. Therefore, it’s important to understand the minimum coverage required by the State of Florida and what you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident.
Florida requires that each driver carry a minimum of $10,000.00 in property damage liability, and $10,000.00 of personal injury protection. That means that if you are in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, your own insurance will cover up to $10,000.00 in medical bills, mileage and lost wages. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance will cover up to $10,000.00 of your property damage. Unfortunately, the damages caused to a vehicle during a crash often far exceed the $10,000.00 limit. In addition, with healthcare costs having skyrocketed over the last few decades, $10,000.00 in personal injury protection often only covers a fraction of all medical bills incurred as a result of the crash. There are, however, optional coverages available to Florida drivers that allow them to protect themselves while on the road.
Auto insurance companies offer many other useful, but optional, forms of insurance coverage. For instance, collision coverage is a form of insurance that will help pay for the repair of your vehicle regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Sometimes, even if you are not at fault, the other side’s insurance company will claim that you are at fault in an effort to avoid paying out your otherwise valid claim for property damage. Even if you are a safe and defensive driver, having your own insurance can offer you protection from the negligent actions of other drivers. Car accidents are stressful, and it is often a relief when you know that there will be a way for your vehicle to be repaired, even if you were found to be at fault.
Another optional coverage comes in the form of rental insurance coverage. Often, a car crash results in a car being completely undrivable, or at the very least requiring extensive and lengthy repairs that can leave the driver without their car for weeks at a time. When you combine the cost of a rental car with all of the other unexpected expenses and copays that are involved with being in an auto-collision, having rental insurance can make a world of a difference.
Bodily injury liability coverage (BI) is one of the most important coverages to have. If you are found to be at fault in an accident resulting in injuries, your BI coverage, will cover the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering experienced by the occupants of the other vehicle. Why pay to cover someone else’s bills, you might ask. Well, without this form of insurance, there can be a judgement filed against you personally, resulting in the other party going after any assets you may own. On the other hand, if you are the victim of someone else’s negligence and that person has BI, their insurance will pay for any medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses and pain and suffering that you incur as a result of the crash. However, if you don’t want to drive around at the mercy of other people insurance coverage, there is a way to protect yourself.
Perhaps the single most important form of insurance to have is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM). This form of insurance offers you protection in the event that the person who crashes into you has very little or no BI coverage. Often, people reject this insurance coverage because they think, “I won’t get hit”, or “The other party will have insurance”. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. As attorneys, it is incredibly hard to tell someone who is battling life-changing or life-threatening injuries that because the other driver didn’t have BI insurance, and there was no UM coverage, that there is simply nothing anyone can do to help them because there is no insurance coverage to go after.
It is important to understand how you can protect yourself with strong insurance coverage. However, an accident can be overwhelming, and many people have difficulty dealing with insurance companies. If you have been involved in a car crash or automobile accident and have questions about your rights, you can call Glassman & Zissimopulos Law and speak with a lawyer 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.