Is Full Coverage Insurance Enough Insurance In Florida?
Car insurance is required in the state of Florida and there is a misconception that ‘full coverage’ is all you need. Wrong. ‘Full coverage‘ is the bare minimum required to get a driver’s license and purchase a car. This means if you are the victim of someone else’s negligence or you are at-fault in a car accident, you could be on your own.
Full Coverage Insurance protects the other person’s car if you were at fault and the first $10,000 for your medical bills regardless of who is at fault under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits at 80%.
But what about if you were not at fault and you have more than $10,000 in medical bills? Who pays then? How can you protect yourself and your family? You could be on your own. Hence, this is why we highly recommend you buy Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage.
In 2017, the Insurance Research Council found that almost 14% of drivers in the United States do not have insurance coverage. Another 2015 study by the Insurance Information Institute also found Florida to have the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the United States, at 26.7%.
These numbers mean that the likelihood of being in a car accident without insurance held by both parties is much higher. If you do have car insurance, there are usually six basic aspects that are covered in an insurance policy.
It is important to first understand these policy elements for your insurance protection before you can understand what happens if you are uninsured.
What Are The Types Of Auto Insurance Coverage?
Bodily injury liability coverage pays for the injuries that are caused to the driver that is not at fault and the passengers who were in the accident.
Property damage liability: This covers the repairs to the other vehicles involved, as well as buildings, fences, etc., to the person not at fault.
Collision insurance covers the damage that is caused to your vehicle and property regardless of who is at fault.
Personal injury protection (also known as Florida ‘No-Fault’) is the cover that pays out for the injuries and lost wages that you, your resident relatives and the passengers in your car sustained.
Comprehensive insurance is there for when the damage to your vehicle is caused by incidents other than accidents. These incidents can include events like:
- natural disasters
- damage from fire/wind/floods
- hitting an animal
- falling objects
The last coverage we will mention, but perhaps the most important one, is to protect against uninsured and underinsured motorists, called ‘UM coverage’. This covers costs and damages that are caused by a person who does not have insurance at all (i.e., hit-and-run driver or an unlisted driver).
It could also protect you if someone has so little insurance that it will come up short. Basically, UM coverage is very useful to have in case the other driver does not carry enough insurance to cover your losses.
UM coverage in Florida is typically the cheapest coverage to buy ‘dollar for dollar.’ Yet, it is perhaps the most important because it follows you wherever you go, wherever your family goes and protects any occupants in your car when you are not at fault.
Florida Statute § 627.727 clearly makes this coverage so important that you need to affirmatively sign off on rejecting this coverage. At Fernandez & Hernandez, we highly recommend you protect yourself and your family by buying ‘Uninsured Motorist’ coverage equivalent to your household income. It’s important!
How important is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured Motorist coverage is so important that the legislature not only told insurance companies the exact language they must use for you to reject it, but what font to use and how bold and clear it must be. We have read many statutes in Florida and this is the only we have seen that states the exact language it must use, the font size and that it must be bolded. Florida Statute § 627.727 mentioned above states that if you want to reject this coverage, you must sign a form under the following restrictions:
‘The rejection or selection of lower limits shall be made on a form approved by the office. The form shall fully advise the applicant of the nature of the coverage and shall state that the coverage is equal to bodily injury liability limits unless lower limits are requested or the coverage is rejected.
The heading of the form shall be in 12-point bold type and shall state: ‘You are electing not to purchase certain valuable coverage which protects you and your family or you are purchasing uninsured motorist limits less than your bodily injury liability limits when you sign this form. Please read carefully.’
If this form is signed by a named insured, it will be conclusively presumed that there was an informed, knowing rejection of coverage or election of lower limits on behalf of all insureds. The insurer shall notify the named insured at least annually of her or his options as to the coverage required by this section. Such notice shall be part of, and attached to, the notice of premium, shall provide for a means to allow the insured to request such coverage, and shall be given in a manner approved by the office.’
All too often, our firm needs to discharge an injured party because the at-fault party does not have bodily injury coverage or even insurance at all. Moreover, our client’s did not adequately protect themselves by purchasing ‘Uninsured Motorist’ coverage.
What Does It Mean for Florida to be A No-Fault State?
Florida has a no-fault insurance system for accidents on the road. This means that if a crash happens, each driver’s insurance must pay for the damages regardless of who is at fault, which can be tricky as well as frustrating.
Auto insurance policies cover the basics such as damage and medical bills. If the accident has caused permanent physical damage, injury or disability, then they can pursue a civil lawsuit against you. It is best to seek legal advice immediately.
If you are uninsured and you are in an accident with another vehicle whose driver is also uninsured, then you might have a bit of a problem. You cannot get blood from a turnip and you may not be able to force the other person to pay when the other person does not have any money to begin with.
You will then possibly be liable to pay for the damages to your car. Medical expenses, lost wages, and other property damage will also be out of your pocket. Even if you have another form of insurance, it will likely not be covered if you did not have motor vehicle insurance.
When you have sustained serious injuries or are left permanently disabled, you can file a civil lawsuit against the other driver. The driver who is at fault. With this lawsuit, you will be able to recover, among other expenses, pain and suffering and medical expenses. To determine whether you have a case for a car accident without insurance, contact an experienced auto accident lawyer.
To Insure or Not to Insure?
It’s important to remember that if you do not have insurance, you are on your own. The same can be said if you are in a car accident without insurance.
There are multiple policies that offer affordable car insurance on the market. If you do the research, you will be able to find insurance that falls into your budget. The bottom line is that you do not want to be the unfortunate person that is in a car accident without any or enough insurance.
Tampa Injury Attorney Martin J. Hernandez
Attorney Martin J. Hernandez at Fernandez & Hernandez in Tampa provides legal representation for families in auto accident injury and wrongful death cases. Our Tampa personal injury attorneys welcome the opportunity to interview with you and your loved ones.
We invite you to review our recent results from settlements to trial verdicts. Our qualifications and background are available to you as well.
Our Tampa Attorneys Martin Hernandez and Martin Hernandez PA speak Spanish as well. Just call us at 813.755.9500 for your free consultation. For your convenience, we also offer a contact form online for you to get started with your attorney case review electronically.
The Tampa personal injury lawyers of Fernandez & Hernandez, serve Florida communities including Tampa, Brandon, Carrollwood, Westchase, Riverview, Temple Terrace, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland, Plant City, Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Dover, Valrico, Lutz, Lakeland and many other neighborhoods in Tampa Bay area. Contact an Experienced Tampa Auto Accident Attorney from Fernandez & Hernandez Law.
If you have been involved in an Auto Accident in the Tampa Bay area, call Tampa personal injury lawyer Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez for a free legal case review now. We recommend also reading his reviews on Google Reviews, Avvo and Yelp.