A Brief Guide to Purchasing Auto Insurance

A Brief Guide to Purchasing Auto Insurance

 

In Florida, The Required Auto Insurance Coverages are not Adequate to Protect You in Case of an Accident

 

Florida law provides that all drivers purchase the following insurance types:

1.     $10,000 worth of property damage coverage to pay for repairs to the other driver’s car if you are at fault.

2.     $10,000 worth of personal injury protection to pay for some of your medical bills and lost wages (Florida has a no-fault payment scheme for personal injuries in which each driver must have a policy that pays 80% of his medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to $10,000 regardless of who is at fault).

The required coverages are minimal compared to other states and far from adequate to cover accident-related costs you are likely to face.  According to ISO, the average auto liability claim for personal injury was $15,443 in 2013, and the average property damage claim in the same year was $3,231, and the costs continue to rise faster than inflation. So even if all drivers on the roads in Florida carried the required insurance coverages, you would likely be on the hook for  costs if you were injured in an automobile accident regardless of who was at fault.

But it gets worse.  A whooping 24% of drivers on Florida roads have no insurance whatsoever (according to estimates by the Insurance Information Institute). You would be on the hook for up- front payment of all damages you suffered due to the negligence of a driver who lacked insurance. So clearly, the coverages required by Florida law are not adequate to protect you from financial hardship in case of an accident.  The best way to protect yourself from this burden is to buy extra insurance now before you are involved in an accident. Here are my recommendations for the minimal insurance coverages you should have:

1.    Bodily Injury Liability($100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident) – this insurance pays for costs of serious injuries to other parties resulting from an accident that you caused.  In order to be eligible to purchase UM coverage (see below), you need to have bodily injury insurance in place.

2.   Collision Insurance, which covers damage to your car in the following situations:

- The culpable driver doesn’t have the required property damage insurance

-  Cost of Repairs to your car to the extent that it exceeds the $10,000 limit of other driver’s required property damage insurance.

      -   You were at fault.

 

 

 

3.   Uninsured Motorist (UM)  - ($100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident) which covers the costs of treatingyour injuries and lost wages (and pain and suffering in certain situations) to the extent they exceed the liability limits of the culpable driver’s policy.  You must have bodily injury liability insurance in order to purchase UM coverage and can only purchase coverage up to the limits of your existing BI policy.  

      Note: If you have more than one vehicle on your policy, you should opt for “stacked” coverage, which allow you to apply the limits of each insured vehicle to pay covered costs related to any accident involving either vehicle.

 

4.  Property Damage Liability – ($100,000 per accident) – If you are at fault in an accident involving multiple vehicles, you are likely to be on the hook forrepair costs that vastly exceed the $10,000 limit of the legally mandated coverage.  This is particularly true in South Florida, where there are lots of luxury and exotic cars on the road.

 

5.   Other Coverages to Consider:

 

A.    Extended Personal Injury Protection –  a common variety covers 100% of your medical costs and lost wages up to $10,000 (the basic PIP, required by law, only covers 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost wages).  Some insurance companies may allow you to purchase coverage in excess of $10,000, in which case it would cover your medical expenses and lost wages above $10,000 for an accident that you caused.

 

B.     Gap Insurance – protects you in case you owe more than the amount of the bank loan on your vehicle.  In case your car is totaled in an accident, the policy will pay the difference to the bank.

 

C.      Medical Payment Coverage –  covers the portion of medical bills that PIP won’t pay.  Medical payment coverage also pays your medical costs when you are a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, and the driver is uninsured or flees the scene of the accident.

 

I provide you this information in the hopes it will help you protect yourself in case of an accident.  Keep in mind that insurance products differ from one company to another and change over time, so I can offer no warranties as to its accuracy.  Before entering into a contract to purchase auto insurance, read the policy carefully.  And have a safe drive!

 

ClarkeLaw PA fights for justice for victims of accidents and also represents clients in insurance disputes.  Call (305) 467-5560 or email me at john@clarkelawpa.com for a free consultation!