No one ever plans on being in an auto accident, but the fact is that they happen all the time. You never know when or where it will happen, so it’s important to be prepared. Being prepared is understanding your available insurance coverages. Having the proper coverage will protect you financially if you are injured in an accident and your car is damaged. This blog is brought to you by the Law Office of Roger P. Foley in an effort to educate drivers about the types of insurance coverage they should have in case an accident occurs.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Is Not Sufficient To Protect Drivers that Are Injured In An Auto Accident
Most Florida drivers are only required to carry the minimum amount of auto insurance coverage, which is $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL). This is considered full coverage. However, this may not be enough to cover all the costs if you are involved in a serious car accident. That’s why it’s important to have bodily injury coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and stacking of coverages.
What Are The Best Types Of Insurance Coverage To Protect You If You Are Injured In A Car Accident?
- Bodily injury (BI) coverage is a type of auto insurance that provides financial compensation to the other person that is injured or their family in the event of death. BI coverage can help pay for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, and pain and suffering. Some people choose to carry higher limits of BI coverage, especially if they have assets to protect. If you are sued for damages that exceed your BI coverage limit, you could be responsible for paying the difference out-of-pocket. That’s why carrying higher limits of BI coverage can give you peace of mind and protection in the event of a serious accident.
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you financially if you are hit by a driver who does not have insurance. UM coverage pays for your injuries and damage to your vehicle if you are hit by an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver. It also covers you if you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident. UM coverage is important because it can help cover the costs of medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages. Note: Uninsured motorist insurance does not cover pain and suffering damages unless the non-economic damage includes loss of bodily function, permanent scarring, a permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability, or death.
Florida’s Uninsured Motorist Statute, 627.727, requires all insurance carriers to offer UM coverage to their policyholders. If you reject UM coverage, you must do so in writing. Some people choose to opt-out of UM coverage because they feel they don’t need it or because they want to save money on their premium.
The major benefit of obtaining uninsured motorist coverage is that you will have the money needed to pay for medical expenses, lost wages and more if you are in an accident with a driver that has no coverage or inadequate coverage.
Another way to get more protection is to “stack” your coverages. If you have two cars and each has its own policy with BI and UM coverage, you can “stack” the coverages to get more protection. This means that you would have two policies to pay for damages, up to the limit of each policy. So, if you had $100,000 in BI coverage on each policy, you would have a total of $200,000 in coverage. This can be a great way to get more protection if you are ever in an accident. The same works for your UM Coverages.
Optional Insurance Coverages
There are other types of auto insurance coverage that are not required by Florida law but may be worth considering. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage can help pay to repair or replace your car if it is damaged in an accident.
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your car caused by a collision with another vehicle or object, such as a fence or tree.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car caused by events other than a collision, such as fire, theft, vandalism, or weather damage.
- Gap insurance should be considered if you lease or finance your car. Gap insurance covers the difference between what you owe on the car and what it is worth—which can be significant if your car is totaled or stolen.
What Is Good Car Insurance Coverage In South Florida?
Top personal Injury lawyers would recommend that drivers purchase a minimum of 100,000 per person/ $300,000 Bodily Injury, Uninsured/Underinsured along with stacking of coverages if there is more than one vehicle in the household. Collision and comprehensive are also good choices but BI, UM, and Stacking are essential to have if you are ever injured in a car wreck.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Good Auto Insurance And Involved In A Car Accident?
In short, you can end up with nothing. Twenty percent of people in Florida are driving without auto insurance and many others have the bare minimum coverage which provides nothing to you even if they are 100% at fault in an accident. Look at your current coverage and consider the below example:
While Driver 1 is stopped at a traffic light, he is rear-ended by another vehicle, Driver 2. D1 is seriously injured and sent via ambulance to the hospital with back and neck injuries. While at the hospital it is discovered that D1 suffered several fractured vertebrae in his back. D1 needs surgery. Surgery is successful but D1 needs to be in a full back brace for 90 days followed by physical therapy for another three months. D1 is unable to work. The medical bills start arriving and the costs are over $100,000. Both Drivers have the minimum insurance required in Florida, often referred to as “full coverage.” D1 starts calling personal injury lawyers. Here is what he will learn:
- Liability is clear- the other driver was negligent. They had a duty of care, they breached their duty, and caused your injuries
- D2 does not have bodily injury coverage so there is no money to pay for D1’s medical bills or to compensate D1 for lost wages
- D1 does not have Uninsured/Underinsured medical coverage so your insurance will only pay out PIP benefits
- PIP will pay the first 10k of medical bills and lost wages
- D1 is responsible for approximately $90,000 in medical services, D1 must talk to the hospital and medical providers about setting up a payment plan
- Nobody will pay you for D1’s lost wages or lost future earnings while out of work
- The attorney explains that without insurance coverage that nothing can be done for D1- there is no case
D1 is rightfully angry. The person responsible for their injuries is not paying their bills. D1 is out of work. D1 now understands that when the insurance agent sold him “full coverage” he paid for almost nothing. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, they make the most for selling the most basic coverage. Additional coverage actually causes their profits to decrease because if you are in an accident and anyone is injured they will need to pay out large sums. It’s more cost effective to sell you the basic policy, because it makes them the most money. BI, UM and stack coverages provide potential economic losses so they are less likely to advertise them as necessary for you.
Florida law requires that all drivers have PIP and PDL- which is the very minimum amount of coverage. If you are in an accident, PIP will cover a small portion of your medical bills and lost wages. You are responsible for the rest. The at-fault driver will be responsible for none of your bills unless they have Bodily Injury coverage. If they don’t have sufficient coverage, the odds are good that they will not be able to pay your medical bills or compensate you for any injuries suffered.
To protect yourself, it is essential that you purchase bodily injury (BI) and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverages with stacking on all vehicles in your household. This is the best way to ensure that you will be able to pay your medical bills and recover compensation for any injuries suffered in an auto accident. Now get on the phone with your insurance agent.
Contact The Law Offices Of Roger P Foley To Discuss Your Car Accident
When you’re in a car accident, it’s important to have an experienced Florida personal Injury lawyer on your side from day one. Don’t go at it alone. Personal Injury attorney Roger P. Foley is available to help you. Don’t hesitate. The call is free. 561-746-7076