Florida Insurance Requirements
Unfortunately, car accidents remain a major problem in Florida.According to data provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 395,500 crashes led to more than 250,000 injuries in the state in a single recent year. In Sarasota County, there were 6,570 reported collisions in 2016, which resulted in 3,999 injuries, and tragically, more than 70 deaths. The risk of an accident is something that we all have to be prepared for every single time we get into an automobile.
To protect yourself and your family, you must obtain adequate insurance coverage. As any experienced Sarasota car accident lawyer will tell you, far too many accident victims are shocked to discover that they did not actually have enough insurance protection. Here, the personal injury team at Buckman & Buckman discusses Florida’s state insurance regulations, as well as some tips for ensuring that you have the right coverage to protect yourself and your family.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Florida
Under Florida law, you are required to carry the following types of insurance coverage:
- At least $10,000 of property damage liability coverage (PDL) to pay for another party’s vehicle repairs, in cases where you were at fault for their crash; and
- At least $10,000 in personal injury coverage (PIP) to pay for your own medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the crash.
That is all that is required under the law: The minimum coverage offers very little protection to you and your family. If you were seriously injured in a crash, regardless of who was to blame for the accident, you may have property and injury damages that well exceed the minimum mandated coverage.I In the worst case scenario, a driver who only carries the minimum coverage could be stuck with tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars worth of medical bills and related expenses. For the vast majority of people, obtaining additional insurance coverage is not just advisable – it is a must.
When Should I Purchase Different Types of Car Insurance?
You need to buy auto accident insurance coverage before something goes wrong. Once you are in an accident, it is already too late to seek financial protection. More than in just about any other state, too many Florida auto accident victims have a difficult time recovering full compensation for their damages. The state’s insurance requirements are low, and Florida is filled with an unusually high percentage of uninsured drivers. This means that you need to protect yourself. All drivers should plan ahead, and be sure that they have obtained adequate insurance coverage ahead of time, before a major accident takes place.
Your Guide to the Different Types of Auto Insurance Coverage in Florida
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
In Florida, standard personal injury insurance will provide coverage for an injured motorist’s own medical costs, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This is because Florida has a no fault insurance law. The primary purpose of this law is to help all car accident victims pay for their medical bills without delay. As auto accident claims can take months or even years to reach settlement, PIP coverage helps to ensure that victims are able to obtain immediate payment for the medical costs. As was mentioned, under Florida law, all motorists are required to carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. Your PIP coverage will pay 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages, up to the policy limit. Additionally, your PIP insurance will also provide coverage for your children and other members of your household.
Beyond the minimally mandated $10,000 in PIP coverage, it is strongly recommended that Florida motorists purchase extended PIP coverage. Put simply, medical care is extremely expensive. Indeed, $10,000 in personal injury coverage will likely be insufficient to cover the treatment needed for a serious injury. Drivers should purchase far more PIP coverage. In fact, it is recommended that all motorists purchase at least $50,000 in extended PIP coverage, with $100,000 being closer to the ideal minimum amount.
Property Damage Liability (PDL)
Along with the standard $10,000 of PIP coverage, property damage liability coverage is the only other type of auto insurance coverage that is required under Florida law. You must carry at least $10,000 in PDL coverage to pay for any property damage that occurs in an accident that you caused. You may wish you obtain more than the minimally required $10,000 in PDL coverage. This is recommended, as you may cause far more than $10,000 in damages in an accident. If you negligently cause more than that amount, the other party can bring a legal claim against you directly to seek compensation for the remaining damages.
While not legally mandated, collision coverage is a must have for all motorists in Sarasota and throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida. Even a relatively minor accident can easily lead to thousands of dollars in auto repair bills. It is a best practice to purchase collision insurance protection because this type of coverage will provide you with protection for any damage that occurs to your own vehicle. No matter how careful of a driver you are, you may someday be at fault for a crash, and you will likely want some type of insurance coverage to protect you against damage to your vehicle. Most often, collision coverage is offered with a deductible. You can determine the deductible, quarterly rate and total coverage that is appropriate for your individual needs.
Depending on how much you owe on your car (and the current market value of your vehicle), you may wish you purchase gap coverage. Essentially, gap coverage protects people who are upside down on their car loan. In other words, the liability of their vehicle loan is higher than their car is actually currently worth. Following an accident, you will only be entitled to receive recovery for the current value of your vehicle. As such, if you are significantly underwater on your car loan, as is often the case for people who own a new car, it may be wise to obtain gap coverage protection, as this type of coverage will provide you compensation for the full value of your auto loan, not just the current value of your vehicle.
Medical Payment Coverage
In Florida, PIP coverage and extended PIP coverage will provide coverage for 80 percent of your personal medical bills. Of course, this leaves a gap of 20 percent. In some cases, that 20 percent gap can be very large. To protect yourself against that gap, it is a best practice to purchase medical payment coverage. This type coverage will protect you against medical bills that are not covered by your PIP coverage or your extended PIP coverage. For most drivers, obtaining a minimum of $5,000 to $10,000 in medical payment coverage is advisable.
Beyond obtaining insurance coverage that provides you with recovery for your own medical bills, you should also obtain coverage that protects your assets against being sought to pay for someone else’s medical bills. If you are at fault for an accident, and a serious injury occurred as a result, the injured party can bring a lawsuit directly against your personal assets to seek compensation for their losses. To protect your life savings, bodily injury coverage is a must. It is strongly recommended that drivers purchase at least $300,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage. By doing this, you will be able to ensure that your personal assets are protected against any car accident injury lawsuit that might be filed against you.
Finally, it is recommended that all Florida drivers obtain uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is important for several different reasons. First, Florida has an unusually high number of drivers on the road who are uninsured. A 2014 study found that as many as 24 percent of all Florida drivers were uninsured. Put another way, you likely pass dozens of uninsured drivers every time you get behind the wheel. Further, as Florida’s minimum insurance requirements are so low, you may be involved in an accident with a driver who has very little coverage, meaning their coverage will be insufficient to provide you with much recovery. Of course, if an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault for your accident, you can bring a legal claim against them directly, however, these drivers almost never have sufficient assets to make doing so a viable option.
Get Legal Assistance Today
At Buckman & Buckman, our dedicated car accidents attorneys have extensive experience handling insurance claims. If you were injured in a crash in Florida, we can help you seek full and fair compensation for your damages. To set up a free review of your accident claim, please contact our team today. From our office in Sarasota, we represent victims throughout the region, including in Bradenton, Venice and North Point.