You may have heard the saying, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” This is definitely true when it comes to car insurance. Many people choose not to purchase car insurance because they think it’s too expensive or believe they don’t need it.
There are 15.4 million licensed drivers in Florida. However, according to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida is at the top of the list of states, with uninsured motorists at 27%. The costs of not having car insurance can be much higher than the cost of premiums. Without car insurance, you could face costly tickets, license suspension, or license revocation. In addition, driving without car insurance is illegal in Florida.
At The Fran Haasch Group, we want all drivers to be safe and stay legal. Going without car insurance could prevent you from being represented by our firm and lead to severe financial loss.
What Coverage Is Required in Florida?
Florida requires its drivers to carry:
- $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP) Coverage – Personal Injury covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages.
- $10,000 in Property Damage Liability Insurance (PDL) Coverage – Property Damage Liability coverage is insurance that covers damages to someone else’s car and property. This can include their car, home, or other personal belongings.
These are just Florida’s minimum requirements, which are often not enough to provide sufficient coverage after an accident. We recommend drivers also carry:
- Collision Insurance covers the cost of repairing your vehicle if it’s damaged in a collision with another car.
- Comprehensive Insurance helps pay to replace or repair your car if it’s stolen or damaged in an accident that doesn’t involve a collision. This could include fire, vandalism, or damage from fallen objects such as trees.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is also important. This protects you if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages. It also potentially helps if you have a hit and run incident where you are unsure of who the other driver at fault was.
- Bodily Injury Liability Coverage is another type of protection that can be especially vital. If you are at fault for a car accident, a bodily injury policy will pay for the injuries and deaths of other people involved in the accident and payment for legal defense if you are sued for damages.
Why You Should Consider Getting Car Insurance
The consequences of driving without car insurance can be severe and lead to long-term financial problems. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you could face:
- Fines – The average penalty for driving without insurance in Florida is $150-$500.
- License Suspension – Your license can be suspended for up to three years if you’re caught driving without insurance.
- Increased Insurance Rates – If you’re involved in an accident and don’t have insurance, your rates may go up when you do get insurance.
- Vehicle Registration Suspension or Revocation – If you don’t provide proof of insurance, you could have your vehicle registration suspended or revoked.
What is Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) Motorist Coverage and Why Do I Need It?
Uninsured (UM) motorist coverage provides insurance coverage for you if the person who caused the crash does not have insurance. Underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage provides insurance coverage for you if the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is not sufficient to pay for your damages.
It is critical to have both UM and UIM coverage, should you get in a car accident. This coverage protects you from a variety of problems that can occur if you are the victim of an accident, and the other driver is either uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance coverage.
Conveniently, Florida policies always include both UM and UIM coverage, unlike some other states.
UM and UIM coverage can be used to cover a variety of damages from your accident. These include:
- Medical Bills – Medical bills can easily exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even if you have health insurance, your health insurance may not cover these costs. PIP insurance is typically never enough to cover these expenses, which is why it is critical to have UM and UIM coverage to bridge that gap.
- Lost Wages – If you are injured in an accident and are unable to work due to your injuries, your UM and UIM coverage can be used to recover the lost wages you incurred from the accident.
- Pain and Suffering – Your non-economic damages include damages for pain and suffering. If the at-fault driver has no insurance or is underinsured, you can tap into your UM or UIM coverage to compensate you for the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident.
The main benefit of having UM and UIM coverage is to ensure that you have enough money to compensate you for the harms and losses you sustained in an accident, regardless of the other driver’s insurance. Even though Florida is a no-fault state, you will very likely need additional money to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Having UM and UIM coverage prevents you from incurring crushing financial burdens that will follow you long after the accident occurs.
In addition, Florida allows “stacking” of UM/UIM bodily injury policies. That means that if you have a $100,000 UM/UIM bodily injury policy, and you have three vehicles insured on that policy, you may be able to “stack” your coverage so there is $300,000 in available coverage. Similarly, if you have separate auto policies with UM/UIM coverage on each policy, you may be able to stack that coverage as well. For example, if you have one car insurance policy that has $30,000 in UM/UIM bodily injury coverage, and a separate car insurance policy that has $100,000 in UM/UIM bodily injury coverage, you may be able to stack both of those policies so that you will have $130,000 in available UM/UIM coverage.
Note that the ability to stack depends on a number of factors, including policy language, which may determine order of payment, if a policy is offset, and more.
With the unusually high rate of uninsured drivers in Florida, having UM and UIM coverage is the best way to protect yourself, in the event you are the victim of a car accident.
What Happens If I’m At Fault for a Car Accident?
If you cause an accident and don’t have insurance, you could be sued for damages. If the other driver is injured, they could sue for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you’re found at fault, you could be responsible for:
- Medical Expenses – If the other driver is injured, you may be responsible for their ambulance fees, hospital stays, surgeries, and rehabilitation.
- Lost Wages – If the other driver missed work because of the accident, you could be responsible for their lost income.
- Car Repair Costs – You may have to pay for the damage to the other driver’s car.
- Other Property Damage – If the other driver’s home or other personal belongings are damaged in the accident, you may have to pay for the repairs. Additionally, you may be liable for city or business owned property that was damaged. For example, a light pole, utility equipment, or a business road sign.
- Pain and Suffering – The other driver may sue you for their pain and suffering, such as mental distress and prolonged pain.
- Funeral Costs – If the other driver dies in the accident, you may have to pay for any associated funeral costs.
- Your Legal Fees – If you’re sued for damages after an accident and don’t have bodily injury insurance, you’ll have to pay your legal fees. These can include the cost of hiring an attorney, court fees, and any settlement or judgment against you.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at The Fran Haasch Law Group Today
Driving without car insurance is a risk that’s not worth taking. Being caught without insurance can be severe and lead to long-term financial problems. If you’re involved in an accident, you could be left with thousands of dollars in medical bills, car repairs, or legal fees. The best way to protect yourself and your finances is to ensure you are sufficiently insured.
At The Fran Haasch Law Group, we will do what we can to help you if you’ve been in a car accident without insurance, or if you are the victim of a car accident and the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. If you’ve been involved in an accident, contact us today for a free case review.