What You Should Know About Auto Insurance In Florida

All drivers in the State of Florida are required to carry car insurance. However, when obtaining insurance, it is often surprising to find that many have no idea what type of insurance is needed or the optional coverages available designed to protect you if you are involved in an accident.

Florida is a "no-fault" state. "No-Fault" means that regardless of who causes an automobile accident if you are injured, your automobile insurance pays for your medical care up to the limits of your policy. This medical policy is called "Personal Injury Protection" or "PIP" coverage. All automobile drivers in the state of Florida are required to carry this coverage. If you are a passenger in a vehicle and injured in an accident, your would treat under your own PIP. If you do not own a car, but live with a relative who does, then you treat under the relative's PIP. If neither of the above applies, a passenger would then treat under the driver's PIP policy.

The typical PIP policy is $10,000.00 with a 20% deductible. If you are injured in an automobile accident, your medical care provider will bill your PIP policy. You will be responsible for the 20% deductible. Some medical providers will require payment of this deductible at the time medical care is rendered. However, some will render treatment without the deductible and request a "letter of protection" or "LOP" from your lawyer. This LOP instructs your attorney to "protect" the doctor's unpaid medical bills and if there is a recovery for damages at the end of your case, your doctor would be paid from these proceeds.

Another option to avoid the 20% deductible is to obtain the optional coverage of "med pay". Med pay is a type of gap insurance that provides you with additional PIP coverage and no out of pocket expenses for medical treatment within the limits of your policy. If your medical care exceeds the total limits of your PIP and Med Pay coverage, then the treating physician would likely require a LOP to protect his or her's unpaid bills from any client recovery for damages.

PIP benefits can also be used to cover a portion of lost wages in the event that you are unable to work as a result of your injuries. The lost wages are usually paid at 60% of your normal weekly wage. Depending on the extent of your injuries, it is usually advisable to reserve as much of your PIP benefits towards medical care as possible; however, if necessary, a portion of your lost wages can be covered by this policy.

Florida also requires a driver to carry " Collision" coverage that covers damages to another's property caused by your actions. Carrying PIP and Collision satisfies the minimal requirements of insurance coverage under Florida law. These coverages are often referred to as "full coverage". Unfortunately, those injured in a car accident quickly realize that "full coverage" is anything but.

If you are injured in a car accident due to the negligence of someone else, there are two types of insurance coverage that you can attempt to recover money damages for your injuries. The first would be the "at-fault" driver's "Bodily Injury" or BI policy. The BI policy is coverage carried by a driver to compensate another for injuries caused by that driver's negligence. BI is an optional coverage. If the "at-fault" driver does not have BI coverage, then the injured person must look to their own insurance for compensation under an "Uninsured/Underinsured" or UM policy. The UM policy is coverage which can compensate you for damages when the at-fault party does not have a BI policy or the policy limits are too low to cover our damages e.g.: you have severe injuries with $50,000.00 in medical bills and the BI policy has a $10,000.00 limit. When there is no BI or insufficient BI limits, then you can look to your UM policy to recover additional monies for injuries suffered. Again, UM is an optional coverage.

As there are many drivers in the State of Florida, there are also many automobile accidents. Since BI policies are not required in order to drive in Florida, it is highly recommended that you look into obtaining UM coverage in the event you are injured through no fault of your own. The amounts of coverage vary, as do the costs of coverage. It is recommended to carry as much as you can comfortably afford because if you are injured due to another's negligence and there is no BI coverage, then in most cases, the only money available to compensate you for your injuries is your own UM coverage.

If you have any questions regarding your insurance policy, you should contact your insurance agent to inquire about your coverage or to obtain additional coverage if necessary.