Are you properly covered if you drive a vehicle in the state of Florida? Are you sure? There are many misconceptions when it comes to owning a motor vehicle registered in the Sunshine State. We want to make sure that you are safe when you drive, and that you are protected in case anything happens while you are driving.
Along with your basic coverage (PIP and property damage) here are two additional types of optional insurance coverage that we strongly urge you to purchase.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
- It is mandatory to have Property Damage and Personal Injury Protection coverage in the state of Florida if you own a vehicle and it is roadworthy. People consider this basic coverage as full coverage. Trust me, it’s not full coverage. PIP and property damage are the minimum insurance required to be legal. These two types of basic coverage are not enough!
- It is well worth investing in ‘Bodily Injury Liability’ coverage, which protects your personal assets. I say “investing in” rather than “purchasing” because you are spending money that will protect you in case something happens. In some cases, the things that you own (real estate, car, stocks, personal property) could be used to pay for damages in an accident that you caused or contributed to. Now you may be thinking: I’m a good driver with a clean record and I am always careful. Again, it just takes one moment and things can change. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that IF you have a moment, it will not permanently change your life. If you purchase Bodily Injury Liability insurance to protect yourself, you are investing in peace of mind.
- If you cause an accident and the other party is injured, they will probably hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis (it costs them nothing to hire a personal injury attorney). If the matter escalates to a lawsuit, Bodily Injury Liability coverage will also cover your attorney expenses for your defense. If you don’t have this type of insurance, you would either have to pay those fees on your own or represent yourself.
- Even if you don’t have any assets that are worth a fair amount of money, lawyer fees to defend you can easily add up to more than $20,000.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
- The second type of optional coverage that I would want you to think about purchasing is Uninsured Motorist Coverage (a/k/a UM/UIM). UM is what you will wish you had purchased when the person that hits you or causes you to have an accident has the minimal coverage required in Florida. In other words, the person who caused your injuries doesn’t have the following: A) Bodily Injury Liability (remember, most people do not have this!) and B) any assets that could be collected if you tried to sue that person. I estimate that 50% of people on the road fall into this category.
- UIM (Underinsured Motorist Coverage) also falls into this category. Underinsured motorist coverage kicks in when you have a $50,000 injury, but the person who caused the accident only has a $10,000 Bodily Injury Liability policy limit. So, your underinsured motorist coverage would step in to compensate you over and above the other person’s $10,000 policy.
- The bottom line is this: If you are injured in a car accident, you cannot rely on the other person having adequate insurance to protect you. You must invest in yourself by purchasing adequate automobile insurance just in case the person that injures you isn’t adequately covered. If you waive uninsured motorist coverage just to save a few dollars on your annual premium, you are gambling rather with your future rather than investing in your future. The odds are stacked against you on this one.
- If you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, your insurance company will pay for your damages if the other party cannot pay.
Reviewing Your Current Policy
Begin by shopping online. Set some time aside to shop for your automobile insurance. You will learn more about the additional coverages available and the costs involved with each type of additional coverage. You can make a chart comparing the coverages and costs of each company. The more you know about the types of coverages available, the wiser your decision to purchase will be.
Likewise, you will be able to compare different insurance companies. If buying insurance online is right for you, by all means, do it. But, I would caution you on this practice. If buying automobile insurance is not something you do every day, I would highly recommend that once you have done your online research, you start interviewing automobile insurance agents. Why?
I think it’s a great idea to establish a relationship with your Automobile Insurance Agent. I deal with automobile insurance every day, and I have an agent that I can pick up the phone and call. A good agent will want to guide you in the process by explaining all of the coverages available to you, the costs of each type of coverage, the benefits of each type of coverage and then, and only then, should they make recommendations. If your agent isn’t asking questions to determine what your insurance needs are, you should begin searching for a new insurance agent.
Ask your agent to review your current policy, and make sure that you are adequately protected. On the other hand, if you feel more comfortable, you can always ask me. I would be glad to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and review your automobile insurance policy declarations page.
The bottom line is this: You really can never be too safe or too sure when it comes to owning and operating a vehicle in the state of Florida. So make a commitment to invest some time and resources to protect you and your family.