If you own a vehicle in Florida that is licensed to go on the streets (car, truck, motorcycle, golf cart or RV), you need to consider, and in some cases, you are required, to purchase insurance before registering your vehicle. In general Florida requires only Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage (PD) for a car or truck. Motorcycles do not require insurance. A golf cart does not require insurance, but slow speed vehicles (usually a golf cart designed to operate on the road) requires the same insurance as a car. Always ask your insurance agent whether insurance is required for your specific vehicle. Before deciding on insurance, learn what the various types of insurance do so you can make an informed choice. Here is a general descriptions of vehicle coverage and what they do.
Bodily Injury (BI) coverage
This is the amount of coverage you have in case you cause someone bodily injury with your car. Bodily injuries include a death claim if you kill someone with your car. Simple example, you hit another car and cause 50K worth of bodily injury to the other driver. If your BI coverage is 50K or greater, you are covered for the harm you caused. When someone says they have 10/20 BI, what does that mean? It means you have 10K BI coverage maximum for any one person in a crash, and 20K maximum in total for BI damages from any one crash. Simple example, you hit a car with three people in it and cause 12K in damage each of the three people. The most your insurance would pay for any one driver is 10K and the most all three people could get combined is 20K. In that example you would lack sufficient coverage and may have to pay some of the damages out of your own pocket.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage
If you’re in a car accident and are injured by someone with little or no BI coverage, this coverage would help you. Simple example, you get hit by a car with only 10K in BI coverage, but you suffer 50K in bodily injury, leaving 40K of your bodily injury damages uncovered. If your UM/UIM coverage is at least 40K, you would be fully compensated for your bodily injury damages. In that example, your UM/UIM coverage of 40K is added to the other driver’s 10K of BI coverage, providing a total of 50K in coverage for your bodily injury damages.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage
This is often called No-Fault coverage. This coverage MUST be used to pay your own medical bills when you’re in a car accident, regardless of who caused the crash. For those folks who say they don’t want to use their own auto coverage to pay your medical bills, then you are choosing to pay them out of your own pocket. Your health insurance will not pay them (health insurance will deny payment until your PIP is exhausted). The person who caused the crash will not pay those expenses (by law you are responsible for them even when the crash was their fault). If you decide not to use your coverage YOU must pay those expenses out of your own pocket. PIP coverage pays roughly 80% of each medical bill up to the policy limit, which is typically 10K. If you want that other 20% of each bill paid, get optional Medical Payments (MP) coverage, typically 2K to 5K is enough.
Comprehensive/Collision (Comp/Coll) coverage
This covers damage to your vehicle. Collision covers crash damage and Comprehensive covers things like theft or vandalism.
Property Damage (PD) coverage
This covers you for damage you cause to other cars or to property, like a bus bench. This does NOT cover property damage to your own car.
What is “Full Coverage”? A term that has no meaning and means nothing. Now you can impress people at a party by loudly correcting someone who says they have “Full Coverage” by letting them know that term means nothing.
What auto coverage is legally required in Florida? Not much. Florida only requires 10K of Property Damage (PD) and 10K of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to drive your fuel injected death machine. If you are driving a motorcycle, even that minimal coverage is not required. That minimal coverage would leave you owing lots of money if you’re in an accident with such limited coverage.
What is required for a Leased car? Typically, your lease company will require a minimum of 100K/300K BI and 50PD and Comp/Coll. That means Bodily Injury coverage of 100K/300K and Property Damage coverage of 50K. Of course, you’ll need Comp/Coll to protect the lease car. Remember, the 100K/300K for BI and 50K for PD are a required minimum, you are allowed to get higher coverage.
Should I get optional Bodily Injury (BI) coverage? Yes. With one exception. If you have absolutely No Assets AND No money AND No credit rating to protect AND no job paying you money, then BI coverage is truly optional for you. However, if you have ANY of those items, you need BI coverage. More BI is always better, but everything comes at a price. In general, the more assets you have, the more BI you should have to protect yourself.
Should I get optional Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage? Yes. In Florida with so many drivers carrying little or no insurance, this coverage is critical to you getting compensated when you’re injured by someone else in a car accident. As with BI coverage, everything comes at a price. More is always better but find an amount of coverage that works within your budget.
At Weinstein & Cohen, we have more than 50 years of combined experience fighting for accident victim’s rights. Our experienced Miami and Naples accident attorneys at Weinstein & Cohen will put your priorities first. If you or someone you care about has been injured or involved in an accident across South Florida or Southwest Florida, contact the Miami and Naples personal injury lawyers at Weinstein & Cohen at 305-374-1011 or 239-793-3331, or visit fairnessforall.com for an absolutely free legal consultation to learn more about your options.