Florida has some of the worst laws in the country when it comes to protecting the innocent person injured in a crash. As an accident attorney, it is heartbreaking for me to see legitimately injured people, who thought they had “full coverage” insurance, find out that what they had purchased does not come close to meeting the needs of their injuries.
Florida’s required insurance is minimal and offers only very little protection if you are injured in an accident, even if the accident was not your fault! Florida Law requires drivers to carry these two insurances:
1. $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) which covers 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of lost wages, up to $10,000 total, if you are injured in a car accident, no matter who was “at-fault” for the accident (Florida is a “no-fault” state).
2. $10,000 of Property Damage to cover the other person’s vehicle if you cause the accident.
Here is an example of why this amount of insurance will not protect you, and if you only have this amount of insurance why you are “Under-Insured”:
Let’s say you are sitting at a stop light and a distracted texting driver rear-ends you and both you and the at-fault driver only have the required minimum Florida insurance. You are seriously injured in the wreck and are taken to the ER, chances are that just your hospital bill alone will use up most or all of your PIP limit of $10,000 (and could easily exceed it) and the money for further medical treatments, prescriptions or any needed rehab will come out of your pocket, in addition, you will be out of luck for your lost wages. If your car’s damages are more than $10,000, that money as well will come out of your pocket unless you have collision and comprehensive insurance.
The solution: In addition to my other insurance recommendations, Florida drivers should always purchase Un-insured or Under-insured Motorist Coverage (UM or UIM) to protect themselves and their passengers from drivers who have no coverage or just the minimal required insurance or are under-insured in other ways. With the purchase of UM or UIM coverage, claims that exceed the insurance coverage of the at-fault person will be covered by your UM insurance policy. Here is an example:
Let’s say your accident claim, in the example given above, adds up to $100,000: Your PIP will cover $10,000, which leaves you with a balance of $90,000 to pay. If you had purchased UM coverage in the amount of $100,000, you will be able to collect the balance due from your own insurance company.
In addition: An important option available with UM/UIM coverage is the ability to "stack" coverage. If you insure more than one car, “stacking” will give you a lot more insurance coverage at a low cost. Here is how “stacking” works:
Assume that you have UM/UIM coverage in the amount of 50/100, meaning that it covers up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 total per accident. If you insure three cars, with stacked coverage your limits would increase three times to $150,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence, and the cost is less than it would be if you had $100,000/$300,000 on each car separately.
So… “stack” it up and save!
UM/UIM coverage has become even more important to have in light of recent studies that show that nearly one in four drivers on the road today is driving illegally, without any insurance at all, and also many drivers are dropping coverage that is not required and just going with the basic required Fl insurance and are underinsured. In fact, we estimate that at least 70% of drivers on the road today are either un-insured or under-insured.
With this in mind, it is important to revaluate your auto insurance policy today. I suggest a minimum UM coverage in the amount of $100,000/$300,000 and to “stack” it up to save money if you have more than one car.
(Finally, remember that Bodily Injury Insurance protects the other person if you were at fault for an accident and does not offer you or your passengers any protection at all!)