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How Much Car Insurance Should I Buy?

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If you have been involved in a an SUV or car accident in the Tampa Bay area call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.
Auto Insurance Policy with two hundred-dollar bills

Quite often as a Tampa Personal Injury attorney, I am asked by clients, friends, and family what I recommend as a minimum for car insurance. Figuring out how much car insurance you need to buy can be overwhelming and I write this post knowing you will most likely never need my services, but I’m just writing this to help you navigate complicated insurance coverages. To put it simply: the bare minimum insurance in Florida is not enough. Just say how much! Ok, fine. The short answer is: buy bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverage equivalent to your household income.

As you continue reading, you will see why “full coverage” is not enough coverage for you. I fully recognize that your budget needs to be taken into account, but the purpose of insurance is to protect you and you hope that you do not need to be protected.

Seeking advice and quotes from only one agent could result in you purchasing more coverage than you need, not enough insurance, and possibly at a higher rate than the competition. Why not enough? Because if the agent knows that you are only looking at the bottom line so they cut the non-mandatory coverage in order to bring the monthly payment down.

Why Do I Need Car Insurance?

Car insurance is designed to protect you, your assets, others, and property in the event of a collision, theft, or natural disaster. You are literally transferring “risk” to the insurance company because the insurance companies are in the risk business and they never lose. You pay a little each month for the comfort of knowing that you will not have to pay a large sum in the event of a catastrophe. For a more detailed explanation, check our guide on how car insurance works.

Is Auto Insurance Required in the State of Florida?

Yes, auto insurance is required in the state of Florida. Laws vary from state to state regarding how much and what types of car insurance you need to carry. Most states require drivers to at least carry liability insurance, which pays for the bodily injuries and property damage of others if you’re at fault in an accident. Shockingly, Florida does not require bodily injury coverage or Uninsured motorist coverage.

You can get a ticket, receive a court summons, and face a driver’s license suspension in Florida for not carrying auto insurance.

What is the Minimum Car Insurance Required in Florida?

Florida state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Florida is a no-fault state. That means your insurance will pay your medical claims and lost wages up to a specified limit (usually $10,000), regardless of who caused or is at-fault for the accident. Under a no-fault system, you lose some of your rights to sue for damages.

The bare minimum car insurance requirement for Florida drivers is:

  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $10,000 personal injury protection

Florida does not require you to carry additional coverage such as Bodily Injury, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, or Collision and Comprehensive. Buying the minimum is not a good idea because it means you are responsible for the injuries to the other party if you are fault and for the other car if you cause more than $10,000 in damages to the other. Don’t think anything bad will happen if you do not have enough? Wrong. More and more insurance companies are suing individuals personally to collect and your driver’s licenses can be suspended if a judgment is awarded.

What Happens if I Don’t Have Car Insurance?

If you’re found driving a car that is not properly insured, there can be many penalties, both criminal and financial, in addition to the loss of personal assets. If you lend your uninsured vehicle to someone, you’re putting yourself at risk, in addition to the person who borrowed your car.

If a police officer stops you for a traffic violation and discovers that you’re driving without car insurance, they may write you a ticket for failing to secure the required level of car insurance. They could also arrest you or impound your car. This type of penalty includes a court appearance where you may need to enter a plea.

What Types of Auto Insurance Is There?

There are five basic types of auto insurance: liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, uninsured motorist, and personal injury protection or medical payments coverage. Other common types of coverage can protect you if you need to rent a car due to an accident, require roadside assistance, or have to pay off a loan on a vehicle that was totaled.

What Is Liability Insurance for Your Car?

When you are at fault, liability insurance compensates the other parties affected in a car accident for their bodily injury and property damage. This can include the driver and passengers of the other vehicle or vehicles involved, injured pedestrians, and the owner of the property where the accident occurred. The important thing to note is that liability coverage does not compensate you or your resident relatives that were in your car at the time of the accident.

Shockingly, Florida does not require liability insurance (only property damage liability). Bodily injury liability coverage pays for medical care, which can include hospital stays, rehabilitation, and long-term care. Property damage liability coverage pays for vehicle repairs or the value of a totaled car. It also pays to fix damaged landscaping, buildings, and other structures.

We suggest buying a policy with more liability coverage than the minimum required. This is because the high costs of healthcare and vehicle repair can quickly add up, and if your coverage isn’t enough, those affected by an accident can take you to court to pay their remaining bills.

Several times in my career, my clients and I have taken properties from at-fault drivers, suspended the at-fault party’s driver’s licenses, and taken payment from the at-fault party.

What is Collision Coverage?

Collision insurance pays for the damage caused to your vehicle in an accident. This type of insurance isn’t required by law, but it’s often required by your lender if you’re leasing or financing a vehicle.

What is Comprehensive Insurance in your car insurance?

Comprehensive insurance pays for other types of damage to your car, like vandalism, theft, flood, hail, and fire damage. Similar to collision insurance, it’s typically required by your lender if you’re leasing or financing a vehicle.

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

Personal Injury Protection pays for medical bills and lost wages if you, resident relatives, or your passengers are injured in a car accident. This type of coverage is often referred to as “Florida no-fault insurance”, since it covers these costs regardless of who is at fault in the accident. This coverage is required under Florida Statute 627.736. About a dozen “no-fault states” require drivers to have this coverage, including New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. It’s optional in a handful of other states.

How Much Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Should I Buy?

Uninsured Motorist coverage pays for your and your passengers’ medical bills and property damage if the driver at fault in an accident does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to possibly compensate for your bodily injuries. It also applies in the event of a hit-and-run accident. Underinsured Motorist coverage is similar. It covers these expenses when the driver at fault has insufficient liability insurance to do so. Many states require this type of insurance.

How Do Lower My Insurance Rates?

By raising the deductible, you can often lower your monthly insurance payments or premiums. The tradeoff is that you’ll initially pay more out of pocket. For example, let’s say your deductible is $1,000. If you’re in an accident and it costs $5,000 to repair your car, you will have to pay $1,000 before your insurance company pays $4,000.

But is that a good idea? Well, quite often the damages are less than $1,000. Therefore, if your deductible is $500, but you have $800 in damage, you will need to pay the first $500 and the insurance company will pay $300. Hardly seems worth it frankly. Just pay the $800 even if your deductible is $500. It’ll be cheaper in the long run in case they raise your rates.

To be candid, shop around every year, and have no loyalty to your insurance company, they have none to you.

What is Gap Insurance?

With new cars being financed for longer periods of time (5, 6, or even 7 years), Gap Insurance has become even more important. A new car begins to depreciate as soon as you drive it off the dealership lot. This means that you could owe more on your car loan than what the vehicle is actually worth especially if you put very little down. If the car were to be totaled in a crash, you would still have to pay the difference between what the insurance company values the car at and the amount left on your loan. Gap insurance, or guaranteed asset protection, is a type of coverage that pays this difference in the event of a total loss. It’s typically required when you lease or finance a car. In other words, if your car is worth $40,000, but you owe $49,000, you will need to pay the difference, and no, the other party will not pay it. They are only required to pay what the value is, not what you owe.

What is Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella insurance provides additional liability coverage. It is a supplemental policy that goes into effect after you’ve exhausted other liability policies. It can be helpful if you’re involved in a lawsuit as the result of an accident. These policies are usually only available with coverage of a million dollars or more, and they are designed to benefit drivers with many assets.

Forgiveness Coverage

Your insurance rates can rise if you’re at fault for a car accident. If you have not been at fault for an accident for at least a year, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance policy. Forgiveness coverage works like these discounts, offering forgiveness if you cause an accident within the time frame spelled out in your policy. This essentially wipes your record clean and enables coverage cost escalation relief. Generally, you’re only able to use this coverage once.

Roadside Assistance

If your vehicle needs a tow, whether it’s been in an accident or not, you can use roadside assistance coverage to pay for it. Organizations like AAA offer similar roadside assistance services.

Many new vehicles come with warranties that include roadside assistance. Those types of warranties often have strict limits, so do your research to see if you’ll need to supplement that coverage with an additional policy or by subscribing to a service.

Rental Reimbursement Coverage

Rental reimbursement coverage pays for a rental car or another form of transportation when your car is inoperable because of an accident. Also called transportation expense coverage, this type of policy usually has limits as to how much the insurance company will pay per day.

Medical Expenses

Medical expense coverage is similar to Personal Injury Protection. It covers your medical bills, no matter who is at fault in an accident. However, it does not cover lost wages. This type of insurance is optional in many states. If you already have health insurance, you may find it worthwhile to skip this coverage, as the two policies may overlap and it is costly.

Where should I buy Auto Insurance?

I highly recommend calling around every year to different insurance companies. But I especially recommend you call an insurance broker who will work with different insurance companies. One insurance broker can work with five to eight different insurance companies. We recommend Adrian Fernandez Insurance, AAA, or an online insurance broker.

If you require an attorney after a Tampa Car Accident, call Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez at 813-229-5353.

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Martin J. Hernandez, Esq.
4.9
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Dominique mason
Dominique mason
16:18 29 May 20
I had nothing but good experiences with Martin. He goes to great lengths to get the job done and makes sure you are... aware of all of your responsibilities. He will talk to you one on one and keep you up to speed. I am sincerely grateful and appreciative of his hard work and effort in my case.read more
Dustin Walker
Dustin Walker
12:56 26 May 20
Martin handled my case well. He was on top of everything and it seemed like my case went smoothly. I actually enjoyed... meeting with the doctor he referred me to. I wouldn't hesitate to refer Mr. Hernandez to anyone that needed legal help.read more
Jesse Jimenez
Jesse Jimenez
15:05 15 May 20
Martin and his team got me paid very fast. I got into an accident and 30 days later they got me more money for my car... and all the money there was and all within 30 days. These are the best injury lawyers in Tampa. Hire them and don't go anywhere else.read more
albert mckinzi
albert mckinzi
13:16 13 May 20
I am very thankful for the wonderful job that Martin and his awesome office staff did to settle a case for my grandma.... As people age, they do have trouble understanding legal matters and terminology & can get bewildered at times. They were very patient and explained everything in a way that could easily be understood. In this fast-paced world finding someone to have patience with older people shows true care for a client and their level of integrity, which means the world to us! I highly recommend them to anyone in need of his services. Our only disappointment was not knowing about him sooner. Thank you so much.read more
Luis Atencio
Luis Atencio
00:55 07 May 20
The right attorney for the right legal assistance! Definitely five stars for the great legal assistance of the... attorney Hernandez and his staff. Very knowledgeable and lavish with his time, I feel very satisfied with his assistance as well with the help of his assistant Sofia, which led to a satisfactory results on my case.read more
Valerie Anderson
Valerie Anderson
18:17 28 Apr 20
First I want to say Thank you Mr Hernandez for your service in our community. I truly recommend Martin for your legal... needs. My Mom had a case pending when she passed.not re Not related to the accident but Martin went over and beyond to make sure me and my brothers was compensated. Keep up the good work Mr Hernandez we ruly appreciate you.read more
Jinnifer Stanley
Jinnifer Stanley
15:39 07 Apr 20
I was in a car accident and like some people weren’t sure how to handle it. I called a few lawyers but Mr. Hernandez... was the one who appeared to be more interested, not only as a lawyer but also as a human being. He made the process very smooth. He was a very great man and a lawyer. I am very thankful to him. I would recommend him to anyone.read more
Daniel Fernandez
Daniel Fernandez
21:18 05 Mar 20
Martin Hernandez is highly regarded lawyer and a 5 star attorney. He and his staff are on top of their game. We... highly recommend this law firm and will tell you that you will not regret hiring this law firm.read more
Liliana Alvarez
Liliana Alvarez
19:33 02 Mar 20
Martin Hernandez and Daniel Hernandez are the best lawyers ever. They helped us a lot and we got great results. Thank... you!read more
Benjamin Blevins
Benjamin Blevins
17:19 21 Feb 20
This is the best auto accident lawyer in Tampa. I was involved in a car accident and did not know what to do, who to... call, who to see, find a doctor that could help me, or even what to say. I called Martin Hernandez and he sat down with me and explained everything from beginning to end. He quickly resolved me my case and got me the most amount of money possible. When people ask me who is the best lawyer in Tampa? I always Martin Hernandez is the best auto accident attorney in Tampa..read more
dylan harper
dylan harper
17:09 20 Feb 20
Martin was able to explain my case to me very well. I got good advice on what my particular options were and an honest... assessment of what I should expect going forward. When the world is falling around you its best to ask the smartest, hardest working person you can find what to do, and then do it.read more
Carmina Wilson
Carmina Wilson
16:39 19 Feb 20
I had an absolutely amazing experience with Martin’s firm. I had incurred personal injuries as a result of a bad auto... accident. His team not only treated me with respect, but they also made me feel like I was their only client. They handled my case with an astounding amount of expertise. Martin and his team is a lifesaver.read more
Katie Gulledge
Katie Gulledge
16:43 12 Feb 20
Mr. Hernandez represented me for my car accident in March 2019 and he was able to get my maximum settlement in less... than a year! He genuinely cares and has a great team of assistants that were able to answer any of my questions through the past few months.read more
cedrick wilson
cedrick wilson
15:17 05 Feb 20
I was in an accident lately and he was suggested by a friend. He met with me in person and was very punctual. He was... very calm and determined throughout my entire situation. Overall, I was extremely satisfied and impressed with Martin in reaching very positive results. I would recommend him and his office to anyone for solid advice and bottom-line results. Thank you again!read more
Tamika Jones
Tamika Jones
22:29 06 Jan 20
My experience with Martin Hernandez has been stressful not on his part. Martin has been very patient with me when I... wanted to pull every strand of hair from my head. From day one he took time to explain the process of how this was going to be but he would be there to hold my hand all the way and he did just that. His paralegal Angela walked with and held both my hands as well during all of this. When I couldn't get ahold of Martin she would make sure he got everyone of my messages. I would use his services again and recommend him to anyone. Thanks so much for all you have done and I'm forever grateful.read more
Russell Craig
Russell Craig
20:51 19 Dec 19
Very pleased with how the case was handled. I hope to never be in this position again as it was a stupid mistake but... with the help of Martin Hernandez I didn’t even have to appear in court on my own. I highly recommend using him and his team, you wont be disappointed.read more
Nicholas Nagowski
Nicholas Nagowski
22:34 14 Nov 19
Worked with Martin in Tampa, Florida. He executed on everything he promised. A well run organization. He called me... back very quickly whenever I reached out, if not answering right away. Definitely would recommend Martin to my friends and family. Thanks again for everything.read more
Mark Lenox
Mark Lenox
16:55 14 Nov 19
I was arrested for my 2nd DUI and I've reached out to Mr. Hernandez explaining my situation. He made me feel safe... through out the whole process. He helped me and extremely happy with the result. Martin knows clearly what are the best steps to take that's why I highly recommend him to anyone.read more
Kimberly McLendon
Kimberly McLendon
02:06 14 Nov 19
Martin Hernandez and his entire staff are extremely friendly,caring,knowledgeable, and treat you like apart of the... family. I hired Martin approximately 2 years ago. My case was a complicated one. But Martin Hernandez did an absolute amazing job. I was always kept current of what was going on with my case. Anytime I called, if Martin was unavailable his hard working staff got the answers I needed. I would recommend Martin Hernandez to everyone. He's dedicated to each case. If you're looking for a lawyer who doesn't just represent you,but welcomes you like family to his firm, Here's your answer. If I could give 50 stars I would. Thank you Martin& staff for all you did. Kimberly Mclendonread more
Chuck Hermanes
Chuck Hermanes
22:21 07 Nov 19
My medical bills had been piling up long before I decided to contact an attorney, and by that time the statute of... limitations was close to ending. My friend recommended Martin Hernandez who is very knowledgeable and who saved me in my situation. My medical bills are finally taken care of because of the work of Martin and his team. From the very beginning, I have no doubt that’s why he had so many great reviews from others. And I am 100% satisfied client who definitely recommend him to anyone.read more
Kymii Plur
Kymii Plur
14:49 01 Nov 19
Martin is the absolute sweetest most understanding lawyer I have ever met. He is very knowledgeable of every situation... and will get you the money that you are deserved. His staff is amazing I love everyone there I couldn't speak more highly of all of them. I would recommend Martin and his staff to my family and anyone who is in need of an attorney don't waste your time with others go see Martin he will take care of you !read more
Gabbie Bell
Gabbie Bell
09:32 26 Oct 19
Martin is very professional, marvelous , and meet all expectations far as handling my family law case.I strongly... suggest him to anyone who is in need of the best lawyer in Florida. Finest lawyer I've ever meet and i thank him for winning my case . He'll be hired by me anytime needed.read more
Johanna Gonzalez
Johanna Gonzalez
21:17 24 Oct 19
Great service. They took my case and guided me throughout the entire process with care and kindness. Thank you!
Parker Darlan
Parker Darlan
17:27 21 Oct 19
Martin and his office were very quick to respond to our inquiry and very professional. Extremely helpful and willing to... listen to the issue and address it in a timely manner. I would certainly use him in the future.read more
Stetson Madison
Stetson Madison
21:02 27 Sep 19
He has been very helpful as my attorney and made himself available whenever I needed. There has been multiple times I... wanted to just take a deal to get it over with but he has continued to work for me to get me in the best situation possible. He is very easy to work with and passionate about helping. He is not just a great lawyer but also a great human being!read more
Louie Serg
Louie Serg
15:51 13 Sep 19
My needs were met and the firm was invested in my case and me as a person. They were easily accessible, return phone... calls and emails promptly. Aggressive, when it was require and got the job done. Martin and his staff all produced the quality of an attorney and firm that anyone would want to hire.read more
Ted Esposito
Ted Esposito
16:49 07 Sep 19
I was involved in a car accident and the first person I called was Martin. He was very understanding and made it very... easy to get the insurance claims process underway. After a year of physical therapy, my case was settled and closed. Thank you so very much!read more
Arica Schmied
Arica Schmied
18:04 20 Aug 19
Amazing attorney!! Martin Hernandez and his firm are the best you'll find. I have known Martin for years and he has... helped my sister and friends in their car accident cases. I can't say enough good things. He is very knowledgeable, kind, and will treat you like family!read more
Noah Chase
Noah Chase
08:48 19 Aug 19
Mr. Hernandez is clearly very experienced - based on my interactions with him. I look for an attorney based on... integrity and experience. I found the integrity that I was looking for with Mr. Hernandez. I would recommend his services to anyone.read more
Fabian Prentice
Fabian Prentice
18:49 13 Aug 19
Martin is an amazing attorney and was able to get all 3 charges off my record. I knew I could count on him from the... moment I retained him as my attorney. He was quick to answer any questions I had and was very reliable. My case lasted over a year and he was always keeping contact with me the whole time. I would highly recommend him if you need a criminal defense attorney.read more
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