Auto Insurance Basics

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Most of us have automobiles and we all know a little bit about auto insurance—or at least we think we do.  This article discusses the basics and just may tell you something you did not know before or explain something you had some questions about.
 
First, it may come as a surprise that Florida only requires two kinds of insurance for motor vehicles.  One is Property Damage Liability and the other is Personal Injury Protection (PIP).   Perhaps oddly, there is no requirement to carry insurance against what poses the greatest financial risk to a driver/owner, namely injury to other people, commonly known as Bodily Injury Liability.

Property Damage Liability

Property Damage Liability insurance protects against claims by others for damage we cause with our vehicles to their property, such as another vehicle, a building, a telephone pole or a tree.  If you are at fault in such an accident, you can be required to pay the value of the damage you did.  We should carry enough insurance to cover such damage and the amount depends on how much we are willing or able to pay the insurance company; the higher the amount of coverage, the more it costs.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance pays for medical expenses and wage loss caused by a motor vehicle accident; it also pays a death benefit if someone is killed.  Usually, it pays these expenses for the vehicle owner and his family no matter whose car they are in at the time of the accident and regardless of whose fault the accident was.  That explains why we call it “No Fault” insurance.  The benefits are limited—unless you pay extra—to $10,000 for wages and medical bills, and only 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages are covered. 
 
Recent changes now require that treatment begin within 2 weeks of the accident and only specified treatment is allowed.  PIP is very technical and consulting an attorney may be necessary. You should not delay getting needed answers or you may lose your benefits.

Other Coverages

Again, only the above two types of insurance are required for Florida vehicles.  Other coverages are available, but they are optional.  These include:

  • Bodily Injury Liability:  As mentioned above, this covers you for injuries you cause when you are at fault in an accident.  Such damages could be very substantial if you kill or maim someone—or several people--in your accident.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars could be assessed against you if you were at fault, so it is worth considering having this coverage for your own protection.  There’s also another benefit to this coverage: If you are sued, whether or not at fault, your insurer provides you a lawyer and defends you without charge.

  • Uninsured Motorist (UM): Because of Florida’s limited insurance requirements noted above, there are many drivers without Bodily Injury coverage so if they injure you, you may not be able to get any money from them for your losses if they have no money or other assets to pay you; you may even win in court and get an award, but not be able to collect it.  Uninsured Motorist insurance is coverage you buy which will pay you the damages you can’t collect from someone who has no insurance at all or too little insurance to cover your losses (called Underinsured Motorist (UIM)) or even from a driver you can’t identify.  Everyone really needs to consider at least some amount of UM insurance.

  • Collision and Comprehensive:  These two coverages are for your car and cover it for damage from other vehicles and from other causes such as falling trees, flying objects like golfballs and birds, fires and theft.  Consider these if you want money to help repair or replace your vehicle if these things happen.  You may save money by agreeing to pay part of the loss yourself (called a deductible, such as the first $500 or $1000).

  • Medical Payments, Emergency Road Service, Towing, Car Rental Expense:  These are also things to consider, depending on your own situations.  Just be aware of them and ask about them if you might need them.  

Those are just the basics of auto insurance in Kissimmee, Florida. There are many other considerations and individual situations that can’t be discussed here. It’s complicated and confusing and you may need help if you are injured or if you are sued.  Do not hesitate to contact the Kissimmee accident attorneys at Draper Law Offices if you need some answers.
Draper Law Office

1/29/2013

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