Florida Car Insurance 101: What Does Full Coverage Mean?

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Approximately 200,000 accidents are recorded each year in Florida.  The scary reality is that Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the country to drive in. It is also a no-fault state which comes with certain requirements for insured drivers that are different than other states. This can create some confusion for Florida drivers when it comes to evaluating their car insurance policies. As a law firm specializing in personal injury cases, it should be no surprise that many of the cases we work on involve car accidents in Pinellas. Many of our clients have what would be considered a “Full Coverage” auto insurance policy and are shocked when it does not provide enough to cover the medical bills and/or the property damage fees resulting from their accident.

Florida driver realizes full coverage car insurance won't cover her accident fees

The term “full coverage auto insurance policy” is used often by insurance providers in order to describe a policy that should protect drivers in most types of incidents. However, the reality is that this won’t cover medical expenses if you or a loved one is seriously injured in a car accident. It just means that your car insurance includes the mandatory coverages: personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability insurance. The goal of this blog post is to educate more Florida drivers about what full coverage really means and why they may need to invest in a more comprehensive policy.

The Cliff Notes: Key Takeaways From This Post

Knowing your auto insurance policy is a must and this blog post aims to educate more on full coverage car insurance; however, here are the key bullet points if you are in a rush:

  • Florida drivers need full coverage insurance to cover liabilities and damages from an accident.
  • Typical policies in Florida include liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage.
  • Rates vary depending on the driver’s profile, types of coverage, limits and deductibles.
  • In a no-fault state, PIP only covers up to $10,000 in damages – often not enough to cover medical bills.
  • Around 20% of drivers in Florida do not have any insurance.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage protects against the risk of uninsured drivers.
  • To ensure proper coverage, policyholders must formally reject uninsured motorist coverage in writing.
  • Talking to a personal injury lawyer before filing a car accident claim is recommended – they can help negotiate with insurers and get evidence needed for the claim.

What Do Florida Drivers Get With Full Coverage Car Insurance?

The “full coverage” auto insurance in Pinellas, where your car is completely covered, would be ideal. What exactly does “full coverage” mean? How can this term be misleading when choosing the right vehicle coverage? The term “full coverage” for car insurance does not have a standard definition. It’s important to customize a car insurance policy to suit your individual needs rather than buy a one-size-fits-all policy. Consider how much protection you need for your assets and properties. You may have a different version of full coverage insurance than someone else. In Florida, your typical full-coverage car insurance policy includes at least liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for your car’s repair if it is damaged in a storm, by an animal attack, by a flood, by a fire, or if it is stolen or vandalized. If you get into an accident, collision covers any damage to your vehicle (unlike liability, which only covers damage to the other driver’s vehicle).

How Much Does Full Coverage Car Insurance Cost in Florida?

Types of coverage, limits, and deductibles affect your premium. It is important to remember this when comparing car insurance rates. Those who choose to carry higher limits of coverage than the state requires will probably have to pay a higher premium than those with the state’s minimum limits. It is normal for the cost of those coverages to be lower if you choose a higher deductible. Florida drivers pay on average $1257 a year or $104 a month for full coverage auto insurance. Here is a breakdown of the premium cost of the site:

  • $32 for medical payments
  • $117 for comprehensive coverage
  • $188 for PIP insurance
  • $283 for collision protection
  • $858 for liability coverage

You can reduce your insurance costs by comparing policies and asking about driver discounts. Insurance rates also vary significantly based on your driving history. You pay more if you are a young driver or if you have a history of violations and claims than if you were an older driver without tickets or accidents.

How Coverage Minimums Are Impacted By Florida Being a No Fault State

The no-fault system in Florida means that your PIP insurance covers your injuries regardless of which driver caused the accident. If you have permanent injuries or if you suffer medical bills or lose income totaling at least $10,000 following an accident, you can still sue the at-fault driver. Your optional bodily injury policy will pay the damages if you are the at-fault driver. Without bodily injury insurance, you will have to pay out of pocket. In this case, you should submit a claim through your PIP policy first. You are covered for 80 percent of all your medical expenses under this plan. The policy of the at-fault driver kicks in if you suffer serious injuries, which in Florida means:

  • Full disability for a period of at least 90 days.
  • Loss of organ function or system failure.
  • Broken bones.
  • Permanent disfigurement.

Following an auto accident in Florida, the bodily injury coverage of the at-fault driver may pay for the court-ordered settlement as well as the legal fees of the other driver. If a driver has only minimum auto insurance, he or she is responsible for paying these costs.

Florida recognizes comparative fault as well, which means that two drivers have equal responsibility in an accident. In the event of an injury lawsuit, if the court finds the injured driver was only 10 percent at fault, but the other driver had 90 percent, the plaintiff could recover only 90 percent of the injury-related expenses.

Client review from past personal injury case in Florida

Why Florida’s PIP Often Falls Short of Covering Medical Expenses After a Car Accident

In the event of an accident, PIP is supposed to cover 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages, up to $10,000 as mentioned earlier. Disability benefits cover medical, surgical, and funeral expenses as well as loss of income. Since Florida is a “no-fault” state, the insurance company is responsible for up to $10,000 in damages, regardless of fault. Unfortunately, under the current no-fault law, the $10,000 amount set aside doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of many medical bills. Accounting for inflation, the $10,000 threshold introduced in 1979 would be worth $77,000 today.

Florida Has a Shockingly High Percentage of Uninsured Drivers

In Florida, studies show that more than 20% of drivers (that’s 1 in 5) do not have any insurance! The percentage of uninsured drivers in Florida is amongst the highest in the country. It is important to have “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist” Coverage, as it is not required to carry Bodily Injury Liability Coverage. As a result of this coverage, if you sustain injuries in a car accident caused by another driver, whose insurance is either uninsured or inadequate to cover your medical expenses, you will be protected. In case you are not sure whether you have this type of coverage at the moment, call your insurance provider and make sure it’s in place.

Why Florida Drivers Need to Be Better Educated on Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Many people do not carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. The majority of people do not know whether or not they have this type of insurance. A Florida policyholder must formally reject uninsured motorist coverage. As a result, some policyholders reject this type of coverage without fully understanding what it is and what they stand to lose by not having this valuable protection. In the event that you do not elect this type of coverage and you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you will only be covered for $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

Florida Statute 627.72 requires insurance companies to have their policyholders reject Uninsured Motorist Coverage in writing; the form must fully inform the policyholder in 12 point bold type: “When you sign this form, you are electing to purchase less uninsured motorist coverage than your bodily injury liability limits. Insurance companies are not required to provide this rejection form to policyholders when renewing or replacing a policy. You may be required to submit an Uninsured Motorist Request in writing to your insurance company. When you don’t know what kinds of auto insurance coverage you have today, contact your provider for more information. It’s not fun to review your policy, but if you’ve been in a car crash, you know how important it is to understand your coverage and have the right amount.

Why You May Want to Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Filing a Car Accident Claim in Florida

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver, here’s what a personal injury lawyer can do for an insured Florida driver:

Provide Expert Guidance During the Insurance Claim Process

To better understand how your claim will be handled, an attorney will review and investigate all possible insurance policies available, the parties involved, and all other relevant details. Herman & Wells works with our clients so they are educated on the legal system and their insurance policies are assessed.

Negotiate with Your Insurance Provider/Adjuster

While you are the insurance company’s customer, your insurance adjuster is not exactly on your side. An attorney who has handled many Florida car accident cases is your best advantage over an insurance adjuster, to ensure a fair and just settlement. You can depend on our attorneys to ensure you get all the money you deserve for the injuries, property damages, and other losses you suffered.

Help You Get the Evidence You Need to Support Your Injury Claim

During the evidence-gathering phase of a personal injury case, our lawyers understand the rules that need to be followed. Our clients’ claims are maximized if we know which evidence is most valuable to insurance companies and which is not. As lawyers, we are familiar with how to preserve evidence and meet deadlines for settling a case.

Represent You in Court if Needed

While their advertising may be focused on having your back in any bad situation, the reality is that your insurance provider is a company that needs to stay in business. This means that when someone is filing a claim that could be worth six figures or more, the attitude is going to change. We strongly advise not viewing the insurance adjuster assigned to review your claim as your friend. Anything you say when talking to an adjuster can and will be used against you. Even if you are careful when interacting with the adjuster, insurance companies have dedicated teams (that include their own lawyers) who are focused on doing whatever it takes to save the company money. If you have a valid car accident claim that has been underpaid or denied, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney if you haven’t already. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience going up against these insurance companies in court. This unfortunately is often required in order to receive the compensation one really needs following a serious car accident in Florida.

Request a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney at Herman & Wells

The majority of people don’t think about totaled vehicles and catastrophic injuries until it’s too late. It is for this reason that more than half of the people on Florida’s roads are driving around without insurance or with minimal coverage. So, if you believe you are “fully protected” in an accident, think again. Planning ahead and getting sufficient insurance before an accident is necessary to ensure full coverage. Purchasing full coverage insurance is wise because you will most likely suffer more damages than the absolute minimum will cover. If you’ve recently been in an accident and think you may be underinsured, request a free consultation with an attorney at Herman & Wells.