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During our free consultations with new car accident clients, we routinely ask our clients what type of insurance they have and their response is often “I have full coverage.” Unfortunately, the term ‘full coverage’ is misleading and does not protect you in many circumstances. Full coverage usually means you are covered up to $10,000 in medical expenses (PIP Insurance) and $10,000 of property damage (Comprehensive/Collision). Full coverage also contains at least $10,000 of bodily injury liability insurance but note this money is not for your damages. Instead, the bodily injury coverage is only paid out to third parties who are injured due to your negligence. So if you are involved in an accident, and maintain ‘full coverage’ auto insurance, you are only guaranteed to be covered up to $10,000 for medical bills and $10,000 for your car. Quite frankly, that is not a lot of money and can often times leave you underwater in medical bills and up-side-down on your car.
More important than just having ‘full coverage’ is that you have Uninsured motorist insurance (UM). We recommend purchasing as least $100,000 of UM insurance. UM coverage is a kind of car insurance coverage that aims to protect you from the harm caused by others. Yes, car insurance is required by all states, but not everyone has it. Further, as stated above. Florida’s requirements for car insurance are so minimal that even if someone has car insurance and hits you, there is a good chance that their insurance is insufficient to cover your damages. In these circumstances, your UM policy will protect you via its “underinsured motorist” provisions.
It is also important to note that it is not just you being protected by the uninsured motorist insurance. If you have passengers in the car and you get into an accident, the medical expenses can be very expensive. You may have health insurance to back you up, but your passengers might not have that. Since you were the person driving, you might even be sued if there’s no one to handle their medical expenses. Add to that the other expenses, like wages, distress, legal fees, etc. When combined, the other person’s insurance might not be enough to pay for everyone’s expenses. That is why it is in your best interest to get a UM.
UM insurance not only covers you against uninsured and underinsured drivers, but it also protects you from a hit-and-run accident. Your UM insurance policy could be your consolation if you become unlucky enough to get into a hit-and-run accident.
Avoid Auto Insurance Myths- As an added value for our readers here, here is our auto insurance info we give to our new clients:
Florida is a No-Fault state. This means that in order to drive legally in Florida, you must purchase $10,000.00 in Personal Injury Protection insurance and a minimum of $10,000.00 in Property Damage Insurance.
Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”): This covers 80% of medical bills up to $10,000.00 for injuries you or a family member may incur in the event of a motor vehicle accident regardless of whose vehicle you are in, even if you are injured as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, as a pedestrian or on a bicycle, and regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Injuries sustained on a motorcycle are not covered under PIP. You may or may not carry a deductible on this protection. This protection also covers passengers in your automobile who do not own a vehicle and do not carry automobile insurance.
Medical Payments Insurance: This is an optional coverage you may purchase which covers the other 20% of medical bills up to $10,000.00 for injuries you, a family member or uninsured passenger may incur in the event of a motor vehicle accident regardless of who is at fault.
Property Damage Insurance: This covers damage to another driver’s vehicle in the event you are at fault for an accident. It does not cover your vehicle.
Collision Insurance: Collision insurance covers damage to your own vehicle in the event of a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault.
Comprehensive Insurance: Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle for events not caused by a motor vehicle accident, such as natural disasters, storms, vandalism, fire and theft.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance: This covers compensation and damages to another person if you are found to be at fault for a motor vehicle accident. Of course, their own PIP coverage will pay for the first $10,000.00 in medical bills; however, medical bills often exceed $10,000.00. Bodily Injury Liability coverage compensates the injured person for permanent loss, future medical expenses, wage loss, personal loss and pain, and suffering. It is important to know that the State of Florida does not require drivers to purchase Bodily Injury Liability insurance in order to drive legally in Florida. It is possible that someone who causes injuries to others in a motor vehicle accident may not carry Bodily Injury Liability Insurance or may carry insufficient coverage to compensate you should they cause injury to you or your family or passengers. If you carry this coverage, your insurance policy will compensate others up to the policy limits and will provide legal representation for you in the event you are sued.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance (“UM”): This covers you, your family members and your uninsured passengers in the event the person who causes your injuries does not carry Bodily Injury Liability insurance. This coverage enables you to bring a claim against your own policy which will stand in the place of the uninsured or underinsured driver. This is an important coverage that many people choose to reject. We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your family, and your passengers by purchasing this coverage. In order to purchase this coverage, you must first purchase Bodily Injury Liability insurance. Your insurance agent is the best resource for determining the amount of Bodily Injury Liability and UM coverage you should purchase.