Do You Have the Proper Auto Insurance Coverage?

Florida roads are used by more than 14-million licensed drivers, so it’s no wonder that there are countless fender-benders and more serious accidents happening frequently in the Sunshine State. It also makes sense that the state of Florida requires all drivers to have a minimal amount of car insurance.

How much insurance do you need? Do you need additional coverage? What about driving without a license or getting into a car accident with someone that does not live in Florida? Here are answers to some of the most popular questions we get about car insurance and driving in our beautiful state.

The Bare Minimum

The state of Florida requires all licensed drivers to have the following minimum coverage:

  • Property damage coverage: $10,000
  • Personal injury protection benefits: $10,000

You Will Hear That Florida Is a No-Fault State, but What Does That Really Mean?

Before we get to the meaning of the no-fault statute, I need to tell you that property damage claims are fault-based. So, in Florida, if you cause an accident, your insurance company will need to pay for the repairs to the other person’s vehicle and any other damage you caused. The no-fault statute refers to personal injury claims that are a direct result of an auto accident.

No-fault definition: the term “no-fault” simply means that you purchase auto insurance to protect yourself and your resident relatives in case of an auto accident. In other words, after an accident, you will always look to your auto insurance company for personal injury protection benefits like lost wages, medical bills, prescriptions, etc. rather than looking at the other person’s insurance policy. At first blush, this may sound odd, especially if the other person caused the accident. But it actually makes sense.

The policy surrounding the Florida no-fault statute is that we want everyone to have access to no-fault benefits in case of an accident. There should be no discrimination between rich and poor. So, if you own a car, you must carry no-fault benefits on your policy of auto insurance for yourself and your resident relatives. This way, if you (or they) are in your car, and an accident occurs, you (and they) are covered. If you (or they) are in another person’s car and an accident happens, you (and they) are covered under your policy.

Problems can arise when someone is driving without insurance or is simply not covered under an insurance policy and they are hurt.

The Florida No-Fault statute does not mean that you cannot sue someone if they cause damage or injury. It also means that someone else can sue you, which is why we strongly suggest that you purchase more coverage than the bare minimum above.

Side note: some states are “true no-fault” states, though, and that does mean that you cannot sue someone when an accident occurs, but that’s for another time, and it does not apply in the state of Florida.

Important note: it is illegal -- for anyone -- to drive in Florida without insurance. The penalty for driving uninsured is severe.

Purchasing Additional Coverage

If you think about it, $10,000 is not a lot when it comes to paying medical bills for yourself or for someone else. The average hospital stay is around $2,000 per day, not to mention emergency room care. If you are required to stay in the hospital for a week, you’ll have to pay $14,000 for that visit. Your $10,000 will go rather quickly! You also have to think about how you’ll care for dependants if injured, what you will do for work, and how you’ll cover someone else’s hospital or funeral bills if you cause an accident -- yikes!

Here are some additional coverage options that you should look into (trust us, we have seen more than a few lawsuits as the result of a car accident, and we’ve also seen what can happen if someone cannot cover those bills).

  • Collision Insurance: if the damage done to your car is more than $10,000, you will be happy to have purchased collision insurance. If someone with no insurance hits you, you will not be covered under your property damage coverage -- your property damage insurance will also not cover you if you caused the accident!
  • Additional medical protection (a/k/a Medical Payments Coverage): personal injury protection (PIP) covers 80% of reasonable and necessary medical bills. You are responsible for the remaining amount. If you purchase additional protection, you should be covered.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage: if the person that hit you has no bodily liability insurance or just a small amount, underinsured coverage allows you to collect the remaining amount from your insurance company. Otherwise, you may be out of luck.

You cannot sign up for additional insurance coverage after an accident happens, so make sure that you have enough coverage today. Most people purchase the minimum amount because it is cheaper, but it’s simply not enough to protect you and your loved ones if an accident happens.

If you have been in an accident and need advice or aren’t sure how to recoup lost wages, medical bills, or anything else related to an accident, give us a call today. Many times, people don’t need an attorney after a small fender bender, but, when you do, we will be here to help.