When purchasing a car insurance policy, it’s rare than anyone sits down and spends time reading through every line of their entire policy. Many of us seek out only specific answers to specific questions or review only individual parts of the policy. But you should resist the urge to gloss over your policy and make sure you understand the essentials of your insurance and how it works. With Florida being a no-fault state, understanding exactly what that means and what it does and doesn’t cover is critical for knowing what kind of coverage you’re going to want if you find yourself in an accident.
The Basics of Florida Auto Insurance
There are seven basic types of car insurance in Florida:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- Property Damage Liability (PD)
- Bodily Injury Liability (BI)
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM)
- Medical Payments Coverage
- Collision Coverage
- Comprehensive Coverage
Each type of insurance is designed to cover a variety of scenarios should you be involved in an accident, but drivers are only required to carry PIP coverage and PD coverage under Florida law. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also consider obtaining additional coverage, and that decision comes from understanding exactly what each type of coverage entails.
Personal Injury Protection: This allows for coverage to be handled by your own insurance company after an auto accident, regardless of who caused the accident. It pays 80% of all necessary and reasonable medical expenses incurred as a result of a covered injury. This can include medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services, as well as medically necessary ambulance, hospital, and nursing services. This coverage can also pay 60% of work loss, and a $5,000 death benefit as an additional policy add-on.
Property Damage Liability: This coverage pays for damage to or destruction of tangible property belonging to another as a result of the accident. This includes loss of use for which you are determined to be legally liable. Florida law requires a minimum of $10,000 of this type of coverage.
Bodily Injury Liability: This coverage pays for the death or serious and permanent injury to others when you as the driver are legally liable for those damages. If you are sued, the insurer will even provide legal representation until they have reached the policy’s coverage limit.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: This coverage pays for your expenses incurred after an accident caused by a driver who either doesn’t have any car insurance or doesn’t have sufficient car insurance to cover damages. Unlike PIP benefits, uninsured motorist benefits are typically paid as a lump sum only after the full extent of necessary medical treatment has been determined or delivered.
Medical Payments Coverage: This coverage pays for your reasonable expenses for any necessary medical treatments or funerals due to bodily injury or death sustained from an automobile accident, regardless of fault.
Collision Coverage: This coverage pays to repair your vehicle if it collides with another vehicle or crashes into an object, regardless of fault. If your vehicle is determined to be a total loss, your insurer will often pay to replace it. But keep in mind that the amount paid by your insurance is usually limited to the vehicle’s actual cash value.
Comprehensive Coverage: Also called “other than collision coverage,” this coverage pays for damage to a vehicle that results from something other than an auto collision. For example, it could pay for damages resulting from fire, theft, flooding, or vandalism. It also covers damage caused by things like falling objects or striking an animal with your car.
Important Items to Review in Your Auto Insurance Policy
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that drivers have coverage for car accident injuries from their own insurer no matter who is found to have caused the accident. For this reason, drivers in Florida are required to carry at least $10,000 in bodily liability insurance per person, up to $20,000 per accident, and an additional $10,000 in property damage liability insurance. So at the very least, make sure your policy includes these minimums. But as seen in the list above, there are many factors that can affect what your policy includes and how much you pay for it.
Any coverage beyond required legal minimums is optional, but having additional protection is never a bad idea. When you’re shopping for a policy, however, it’s important to be wary of terms like “full coverage.” This is because what can be considered “full” varies from one person to the next. By general rule of thumb, it’s important for drivers to secure the best auto insurance policy they can afford, while still making sure it meets Florida’s minimum requirements. Meeting state minimums is great, but it’s always advised to secure extra coverage if you can.
No matter what type of coverage you decide to add to your policy, you should always take time to review it carefully, and especially keep a sharp eye out for these eight important factors before you sign:
- Understand who qualifies as an insured (you, your passengers, etc.).
- Read through the exclusions to understand what might not be covered.
- Similarly, read through the exceptions to the exclusions to completely understand your coverage.
- When your policy refers to another section, jump to reading that section immediately to fully comprehend what it’s referring to.
- If your policy specifically defines its own terms, make sure you read and understand those terms fully.
- Confirm that your coverage limits will be adequate when you compare them to the losses you want to take into consideration.
- Understand and make sure all policy conditions you expected to appear have been met within the agreement.
- Confirm all necessary forms and endorsements are attached and included with your final policy prior to finalizing and signing.
Some of these suggestions may sound trivial, but shopping for a new auto policy can be overwhelming, making it easier for some details to slip through. Just remember: this is your policy — no one can force you into signing it. So take your time and make sure you’re getting all the coverage you and your family need.
And should you find yourself in a car accident and your insurance provider is making the coverage process difficult for you, reach out to The Whisler Law Firm by calling 833-529-5677 or by contacting us here. Our team has years of experience dealing with insurance companies to make sure you get the coverage you deserve after an accident.