Car insurance: everyone in Florida is required to have at least some of it, but how much does the average driver actually need?
The answer depends on your financial situation and your taste for risk. While Florida law requires every driver to carry a minimum level of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, those minimums may not be enough to cover more serious accidents.
Drivers who own cars they depend on — ones that they don’t have enough savings to replace easily — should also consider carrying protections for damages caused by disasters or their own driving mistakes. Add-on policies, like uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, can also help you in the event of a collision with a negligent driver who does not carry enough insurance to cover your medical costs or property damages.
Remember that liability insurance provides critical coverage in the event you are deemed at-fault for a serious accident that causes major injuries or significant property damage. Injured parties who cannot recover an adequate insurance settlement for their damages have the option to file a lawsuit against you with the help of Miami personal injury lawyers.
To help you avoid a situation where you face expenses you couldn’t possibly pay out of pocket (while at the same time avoiding paying for coverage you don’t need), consider the following explanations and tips for figuring out exactly how much car insurance you should carry in Florida.
Liability car insurance pays out in situations where you as a driver are determined to be at-fault for an accident. If, for example, you rear end someone after they stop abruptly, the other driver will likely file a third-party claim against your liability insurance carrier.
Unlike other states, Florida has no minimum level of liability insurance. Instead, drivers are expected to carry the following:
Florida’s car insurance laws are extremely lax compared to other states. For example, Georgia laws demand that every motor vehicle in operation have insurance coverage in place to pay for damages for which they have been deemed liable. The legal minimum coverage amounts in Georgia are as follows:
Since Florida does not require you to carry any form of liability insurance, you may think that only a small amount of coverage like the amounts above may be more than adequate. However, while these minimums may seem like a lot, they really aren’t.
Car accidents can cause major, life-changing injuries. Emergency surgery to save someone’s life in the event of something like major head trauma can easily climb into costs of tens of thousands of dollars. BIL insurance is also supposed to pay for healthcare expenses related to care, such as the price of an extensive hospital stay.
Looking at things from this perspective, you can see why having just $50,000 to cover the injuries of every single person involved in an accident can end up being woefully inadequate. Just one vehicle might have between five to seven occupants, after all, and there may end up being multiple wrecked vehicles for which you are deemed liable for all damages.
In this light, financial experts like Dave Ramsey often recommend that individuals carry more than the state-mandated minimums. “Even if your state doesn’t require liability insurance,” writes Ramsey’s website, “it’s a good idea to have at least $500,000 worth of coverage that encompasses both types of liability coverage—property damage liability and bodily injury liability.”
While raising your coverage limits in this way is completely optional, it may be worth it to at least get a quote. You may be surprised to find out that adding several thousands’ worth of additional coverage may not add much to your yearly premium costs.
Contrary to its name, comprehensive auto insurance only covers damages to your own vehicle within a limited window of scenarios. Such scenarios include: storms, natural disasters, fires, and damages from debris like fallen tree limbs. Many comprehensive auto policies also cover theft and vandalism.
Your car may very well never get damaged by any of these incidents, but therein lies the beauty of a comprehensive policy. Because the risks of such a thing happening are relatively low, comprehensive vehicle coverage can be a cheap add-on to your existing liability policy. You also no longer have to worry about getting caught off-guard by damages you couldn’t have prevented.
Many financial experts, therefore, recommend comprehensive coverage with one exception: if your vehicle is old or has such a low value that you could replace it for less than a few thousand dollars, you may be better off simply saving the money you would have spent on premiums.
A collision policy for your vehicle covers practically all damages that wouldn’t be covered by comprehensive insurance or someone else’s liability policy. In other words, if you get in an accident that is your fault, you will still have coverage to pay for the damage to your vehicle. You may also run into a scenario where your accident is not your fault, such as hitting a deer, but the damage is still not covered by your comprehensive policy.
Like medical insurance programs, collision insurance often comes with a deductible. Your deductible refers to the amount you are expected to pay before the coverage applies. For instance, if you total a $30,000 car and have a $1,000 deductible, then your collision insurance will only pay for the remaining $29,000 in value while you have to cover the deductible yourself.
Collision insurance is almost always required for vehicles that are purchased through financing. Since the financing company technically owns the vehicle, they want to make sure that any damage it gets will be easily paid for.
If you own your vehicle outright, a collision policy may still be a good idea. Asking for a high deductible can even make it relatively affordable.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is worth just a few thousand more than the standard deductible amount, then you once again may be better off just setting aside savings rather than paying premiums.
Even though it is illegal to drive around without some form of insurance coverage, many people still do it. When you get into an accident with these individuals, you will have no option but to sue them if they are not willing to pay for the costs of your accident voluntarily.
The exact same thing can happen if you get in an accident where your injury costs and property damage far exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits. You will only be able to receive the maximum amount allowed by the policy, and you will be forced to file a lawsuit or ask for a voluntary payment to cover the remaining costs.
Of course, those who choose not to purchase liability insurance or who only carry the minimum can often be economically disadvantaged. You may not be able to procure enough to cover your expenses even if your car accident personal injury lawsuit is successful.
To protect you in this scenario, most car insurance carriers also offer a coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists (UM/UIM). Like comprehensive coverage, these add-ons can be had at a minimal cost.
Experienced Miami personal injury attorneys will be able to tell you that UM/UIM policies can sometimes mean the difference between recovering financially after an accident or being left in debt. No matter what type of vehicle you drive or how often, you may want to seriously consider adding this coverage in order to cover your bases against irresponsible or economically disadvantaged drivers.
There are several other possible add-ons to your car insurance policy that you may want to take a look at depending on your circumstances:
No matter whether your car accident in Florida was your fault or someone else’s, you may have difficulty acquiring a fair settlement from insurance companies. In this event, it can often benefit you to hire the services of an experienced car accident law firm.
Miami car accident lawyers have experience negotiating with insurers and navigating state liability laws. Having an attorney at your side can often be enough to raise your chances of receiving a fair settlement from all liable parties. You can also use the legal expertise of a personal injury lawyer to defend against common tactics meant to reduce your eligible damages, such as an insurance company alleging that your injuries weren’t as serious as you claim.
If you have been in an accident or are currently negotiating with insurers for a car accident settlement, consider working with Miami personal injury lawyers today. You can sign up to receive a free case evaluation now, which will point you towards the legal strategies you can use to get the fair compensation your cases deserves.
Contact Steinger, Iscoe & Greene now to schedule your free consultation today.