Understanding Your Florida Auto Insurance Policy
As a Florida driver with auto insurance it is important that you understand your auto insurance policy. Many people don’t understand what they are paying for, and unfortunately most people don’t find out what their insurance will or will not pay for until it’s too late and they’ve been injured in an auto accident. Whenever we speak to people about their auto insurance policies we break the coverage down into three categories:
- Insurance that covers you regardless of who is at fault;
- Insurance that covers you in the event that you are in an accident and it is determined that the accident is a result of your actions;
- Insurance that covers you in the event you are in an accident and it is determined that the accident is NOT a result of your actions, but the at-fault party has inadequate insurance coverage.
Insurance that covers you regardless of who is at fault
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – this coverage pays for the costs of treating injuries that you, other authorized drivers, or passengers in your vehicle suffer in a car accident. In Florida, PIP insurance will pay up to 80% of your first $10,000 of medical expenses, 60% of your lost wages, and $5,000 for death benefits. It is vitally important to know that you have only 14 days to seek medical treatment in order to make a claim for PIP insurance coverage.
Example: John Doe is involved in a car accident. He is having major back and neck pain so he goes to see a doctor 2 days after the accident. The doctor refers John Doe to a chiropractor for treatment, which he begins going to twice a week. In this case, John Doe would be able to file a claim for PIP coverage to pay for the costs of treatment for his accident related treatment.
Medical Payments (MedPay) – because PIP only pays 80% of your medical expenses, many people purchase additional coverage known as Medical Payments Coverage or MedPay. This type of coverage supplements PIP insurance and pays the additional 20% of the medical expenses not covered under your PIP policy along with any medical expenses above and beyond your PIP coverage.
Example: John Doe has been receiving treatment for his auto accident related injuries. His doctors are billing his PIP for his treatment costs and are being paid 80% of what they submit. John Doe would have to pay the remaining 20% of the bills unless he has MedPay coverage.
Collision Coverage – this coverage will pay for repairs to your car if you collide with another vehicle, or crash into an object, after you’ve paid any applicable deductibles. If your car is totaled (meaning the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the value of the vehicle) then collision coverage will pay the value of your car. This coverage is NOT required in Florida.
Example: Jane Doe is driving extremely fast and crashes her new car into a tree. The car is taken to an auto repair shop where it is determined that she did $6,000 worth of damage to her vehicle that is worth $18,000. After paying her $1,000 deductible, her collision coverage would pay for the remaining $5,000 of damages to repair her vehicle.
GAP Coverage – this coverage pays off your loan if your car is totaled and you still owe more on the car than what it is worth.
Example: Jane Doe finds out that the cost to repair her car will be $20,000. Her car’s value is $18,000 and she owes $25,000 on her loan for the car. The cost of repairing her vehicle exceeds the value of her car, so it will be deemed totaled. If Jane has GAP coverage then her insurance will cover the difference between what her car is worth ($18,000) and what she owes on her loan to pay it off ($25,000). If she didn’t have GAP coverage she would be responsible for paying the $7,000 difference between what she owes and what her car is worth.
Comprehensive Coverage – this pays to repair or replace your car after a non-accident related incident (i.e. theft, vandalism, fire, or other covered incident). This coverage kicks in after paying any applicable deductible. This coverage is NOT required in Florida.
Example: Jane Doe just got her car back from the repair shop after the accident where she ran into a tree. She parks the car in her driveway and goes inside for the night. The next morning she discovers that someone spray painted “tree killer” on the side of her vehicle and scratched up the paint all over her car. She takes the car to the auto body shop and they tell her it will cost $3,000 to repair the damage to her vehicle from the vandalism. After paying her $1,000 deductible her comprehensive coverage would pay the remaining $2,000 to repair her vehicle.
Insurance that covers you in the event that you are in an accident and it is determined that the accident is a result of your actions
Property Damage Liability (PD) – this insurance covers the damage you cause to the property of another motorist. Property damage coverage does NOT protect your own car if it is damaged in the accident, it only protects the property of the other driver involved in the accident. In Florida, drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 of property damage coverage.
Example: John Doe was involved in an auto accident and it is determined that he is the at-fault party who caused the crash. John’s auto insurance policy carries the minimum property damage liability coverage required by law in Florida which is $10,000. The person’s vehicle who John hit has damages of $6,000 so John’s property damage liability coverage will pay for the cost of repairing the other person’s car.
Bodily Injury Coverage (BI) – this coverage pays for injuries to others caused by you, relatives who live with you, or other authorized drivers of your vehicle. This coverage is NOT required in Florida.
Example: John Doe ran a red light and struck a vehicle. The vehicle’s driver was injured and had to be taken to the hospital from the scene of the accident. The driver of the other vehicle had to continue receiving treatment and ended up with bills well over $20,000. John’s BI coverage would pay for the costs related to the other driver’s injuries up to John’s BI coverage limit.
Insurance that covers you in the event that you are in an accident and it is determined that the accident is NOT a result of your actions, and the at-fault party has inadequate coverage
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage – this coverage protects you when the other at-fault driver either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage to pay all of your damages. This coverage is NOT required in Florida.
Example 1: Jim Doe was rear-ended while stopped at a red light by a driver who was texting while driving. The driver of the vehicle who struck him admitted to Jim that he didn’t have any auto insurance. If it was determined that the other driver was at fault, Jim would be able to file a claim against his own insurance policy if he has UM coverage to cover the costs related to any injuries he suffered as a result of being rear-ended by the uninsured driver.
Example 2: Jim Doe was involved in a car accident while driving to the grocery store. The other driver was at fault and had an auto insurance policy with BI limits of $10,000. Jim’s medical bills and damages related to the car accident are $50,000. If Jim has sufficient UM coverage he would be able to file a claim for UM to make up the difference between the at fault driver’s BI coverage of $10,000 and Jim’s damages and medical bills of $50,000.
Stacking – when a driver purchases Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Protection they are entitled to “stack” or add together the combined UM or UIM limits of their policy. For example, if Jane Doe owns two vehicles and has UM or UIM coverage of $25,000 on each vehicle policy, she will have $50,000 in coverage per accident in either vehicle. If Jane chose not to stack her UM or UIM coverage, she would be limited to the coverage amount of the particular vehicle that was involved in the accident.
Rental Reimbursement – this coverage allows you to be reimbursed for the cost of a rental vehicle if the accident leaves your car unable to be driven. In some cases the at-fault party’s liability insurance coverage may reimburse you for renting a vehicle similar to your own. This coverage is NOT required in Florida.
It is important to review your auto insurance policy to make sure you are adequately covered
When speaking to friends and family about their auto insurance we always advise them to strongly consider purchasing both Bodily Injury (BI) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage. These types of coverage are not required in Florida but many attorneys agree that they should be. You want to make sure you are protected in the event you are at fault in a car accident and cause injuries to another.
Having BI coverage ensures that your insurance company will pay up the limits of your coverage in the event you are at fault and injure others. You also need to ensure that you have adequate UM coverage in the event that you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Since BI coverage is not required in Florida it is vital that you have UM coverage to protect yourself in the event that you are injured by a negligent driver in a car accident.