In Florida, the term “full coverage” car insurance mistakenly implies complete liability protection. The fact is that full coverage does not “fully” cover the insured. It provides the bare minimum protection required by Florida law to obtain a driver’s license.
Before you are involved in a serious accident or sustain severe bodily injuries, you can purchase additional coverage from collision, bodily injury, and uninsured motorist benefits that offer significantly more protection. It is important to insure yourself against an inability to work, prohibitively expensive medical bills, and car repair expenses, which expose you to higher damages than the absolute minimum will cover.
What is Required Auto Insurance Coverage in Florida?
You must have two types of car insurance under Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law:
- Personal injury protection (PIP). The state requires you to carry at least $10,000 of PIP coverage to cover 80% of your medical bills and 60% of lost wages if you are hurt in an accident. This will also cover up to $5,000 in death benefits regardless of who was at fault for the crash.
No-fault insurance also covers family members who suffer personal injuries while riding in another person’s car. Additionally, it protects you if you are injured as a pedestrian or cyclist hit by another vehicle.
- Property damage liability (PDL). If you damage someone else’s property in an accident, you must carry at least $10,000 in PDL coverage to protect you under Florida law. This coverage may include damage to another vehicle, fence, tree, mailbox, road sign or building.
Property damage liability also covers medical, surgical, funeral and disability benefits. In accidents resulting in a “total loss,” PDL will cover a portion of the replacement cost.
What Does “Full” Coverage Insurance Fail to Cover?
Despite a level of guaranteed protection, mandatory minimum insurance has severe limitations. In addition to quickly reaching PIP and PDL limits that may leave you with significant medical debt and a loss of personal assets, you are also vulnerable to a lawsuit from the other driver if you are at fault. Without additional coverage, you may not be protected in the following situations:
- Hit-and-Run Accidents. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident illegally, the victim does not have the hit-and-run driver’s insurance information to file a claim for damages. The law treats the hit-and-run driver as an uninsured motorist.
- Auto Theft and Vandalism. Your insurance will not cover you if your car is stolen or vandalized without comprehensive insurance coverage with the required minimum coverage in the state.
- Personal Car Repairs. Mandatory minimum insurance does not pay for repairs to your car after a crash, but rather damage to the other person’s car in limited circumstances.
- “Acts of God.” Natural disasters, animal damages, falling objects, and fire are not protected under the required minimum coverage.
Other Types of Optional Auto Insurance for “Full” Coverage
Complete full coverage requires planning and purchasing sufficient insurance before an accident occurs. In addition to PIP and PDL coverage, you may want to investigate the following optional coverage to ensure your protection:
- Bodily injury liability. In Florida, drivers aren’t required to carry bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance. However, it protects you if you have a car accident in which people are injured or killed due to your negligence. Despite the state’s no-fault system, you could still be sued for injuries that your PIP insurance fails to cover.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM). With this coverage, you are paid for injuries caused by an auto accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured (has no insurance) or underinsured (not enough insurance). UM coverage can be used in situations where you or your family members did not cause the accident. While this coverage does not pay for your car, it will cover medical bills, lost wages and long-term nursing care.
- Collision. Collision insurance is based on the age and value of your car. If a collision with another vehicle or object led to your accident, it covers damage to your automobile. Even if you were at-fault for the accident, you can receive this coverage.
- Comprehensive. Comprehensive car insurance helps cover damages to your vehicle that a collision did not cause, whether or not a crash occurred. Coverage includes vandalism, auto theft, windshield repairs, fire, animals, and “acts of nature” common in Florida such as hail storms, lightning, floods and hurricane damage.
- Medical Payment Coverage or MedPay. Many insurance policies offer an additional, elective provision called MedPay, or Medical Payment Coverage. MedPay ensures that 100% of your medical bills are paid up to a specific coverage limit.
Determining the amount of each type of coverage to purchase will depend on your budget and circumstances. By shopping around for a policy, you can find the amount of protection you need with premiums you can afford.
Contact a Tampa Bay Car Accident Lawyer
If you want full liability coverage in an accident, the experienced Tampa Bay full coverage lawyers at The Fran Haasch Law Group can help. Through our decades of experience in litigating insurance claims, we help recover compensation for injured clients. Our car accident attorneys are committed to educating Florida residents about the limitations of their own policies and obtaining more extensive protection against liability. Contact us today at (727) 784-8191 for a free, no-risk consultation.