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The basics of auto insurance

Auto insurance can be an overwhelming, but necessary purchase. What insurance coverage is required in Florida? What additional insurance coverage do I need?

This comprehensive guide will help you choose your coverage wisely and is intended to help protect yourself and your family.

Why do I need car insurance?

First and foremost, if you want to drive a vehicle in the State of Florida, you must buy and maintain the minimum auto insurance required by law.. Unfortunately, more than one in five Florida drivers are uninsured.

What are the Minimum Requirements for Auto Insurance in Florida:

The minimum requirements under Florida Statute Section 627.736 are (1) $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection and (2) $10,000 in Property Damage – that’s it. For most of us, insurance policies can be intimidating and confusing, so my goal here is to break these requirements down in an easy-to-understand manner. My hope is that the next time you speak to your auto insurance agent; you will have the confidence to ask about your own coverage and determine what is right for you.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP):

PIP is required to register or drive a car in Florida. PIP insurance coverage pays up to 80% of the first $10,000 in medical bills after a crash. PIP coverage can be used for your injuries regardless of whether or not you caused the crash, which is why it is often referred to as “No Fault” insurance. This means that you can use the PIP coverage if someone else caused the crash or if you caused the crash yourself. PIP insurance covers your ambulance bills, hospital bills, and doctor’s bills, as long as you meet the requirements to trigger the coverage.

The 14-Day PIP Rule:

If you were injured in a crash, it is crucial that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Not only can your medical condition worsen without treatment, but you could also lose your PIP benefits. In fact, Florida law requires that you seek medical attention within 14 days of a car crash, otherwise you could forfeit the benefits that you paid for! For example, if I paid my auto insurance premiums every single month for the last 5 years, then I get into a car crash and get hurt, but wait 15 days to see a doctor, my PIP insurance may not cover my bills. I would be leaving money behind that could have been used toward my medical bills.

Property Damage Liability Coverage:

Property damage liability coverage is easy enough based on its name. This coverage pays the costs to repair or replace property damaged in a crash that is your fault.. In Florida, drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. However, if you are leasing or financing your vehicle, your financing agreement may require a higher limit of coverage.

Collision vs. Comprehensive Property Damage Coverage:

Collision property damage can cover the repairs or the costs to replace your own car if it is in a crash. Comprehensive coverage is used to repair or replace your car for any damage that is not crash-related, such as a theft or fire.

Bodily Injury (BI):

Bodily injury liability coverage pays for injuries or death to others. BI is an optional coverage that is not required in Florida but should be considered important by all drivers. In fact, Florida is the only state in the country that does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability or UM/UIM coverage (explained further below).

If you are injured in a crash that was not your fault, you need to know if the at-fault driver had bodily injury insurance coverage to determine whether or not you will be able to make a claim against the insurer for your medical treatment. It is important to hire a skilled attorney who specializes in and understands bodily injury insurance and who will be able to find out if there is any coverage available for your injuries. Unfortunately, many drivers in Florida do not have this optional coverage, which means you could be injured in a crash and the at-fault driver has NO insurance coverage that can be used for your medical bills or pain and suffering. Unfortunately, it happens time and time again, when we meet clients that were catastrophically injured in a car crash that was someone else’s fault, but the at-fault driver did not have bodily insurance coverage!

Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM):

Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage is optional insurance that covers you and members of your household if injured in a car crash that was not your/their fault.  It provides benefits if the at-fault driver either (1) was uninsured, meaning they did not have bodily injury liability coverage at the time of the crash or (2) they had bodily injury liability coverage, but the limits of that BI coverage are not sufficient to cover your injuries. UM/UIM coverage is not required and is optional in Florida. Given the number of drivers in Florida that do not have BI liability coverage, it is crucial that you protect yourself and the members of your household with UM/UIM coverage.


Florida Insurance Statutes

Uninsured Driver Statistics

Authored by Destiny R. Barbosa