Nobody wants to get into a car accident. If you do, then it helps if you have the right types of auto insurance. It may be natural to think that the person who caused the accident will pay all your damages. Unfortunately, that isn’t always so. Some damages the injured victim's policy pays. Some damages the insured pays – if he/she has enough insurance and the right type of insurance. Even when it’s clear someone else caused your injuries, their insurance company will delay payment, contest liability, or contest the value of your claim.
An experienced Vero Beach and Sebastian insurance attorney can help you prove someone else caused your accident. He’ll work to identify all your economic losses such as medical bills and lost wages. A respected Florida car accident lawyer will also help you show all the physical pain and emotional suffering you’ve endured and will endure.
Still, the best time to think about what type of insurance you need is now – before you get into a car again. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department, there were nearly 400,000 auto accidents in 2016. Once you have an accident, you can’t renegotiate your insurance policy.
Mandatory auto insurance in Florida
Car owners are required to purchase the following types of insurance before they can operate a vehicle:
- Property damage liability (PDL) for at least $10,000. This pays for damage if you are at fault and damage someone else’s car. It does not pay repair or replacement damages for your own vehicle.
- Personal injury protection (PIP). You must have $10,000 in coverage. Florida is a no-fault state. This means that PIP insurance pays for your medical bills and lost wages regardless of who caused the accident. More precisely, PIP pays 80% of your medical bills. It pays 60% of your lost wages. PIP only pays up to the policy amount.
PIP covers you. It also covers any children you have and other people who live in your household. Your child is also covered if she/he is injured while a passenger on a school bus. You are covered if you are struck by another car while walking or riding your bicycle. Passengers in your car (just the ones who don’t have their own PIP insurance) are also covered.
Uninsured and Underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage
Most Florida car owners just have the bare minimum mandatory insurance. Florida car owners, unlike many states, are not required to have liability insurance. If you get into a car accident, there’s a reasonable chance the driver who is at fault doesn’t have any liability insurance. Even when car owners/drivers have liability insurance it’s usually a small amount - $10,000 or $25,000. Just one night a hospital can easily cost $50,000. Injury victims who suffer a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, or broken bones often need extensive medical care. Their pain and suffering are often nightmarish.
To help you and anyone in your car gets the damage award they deserve, UM/UIM insurance is a must. For example, if your case is worth $250,000 and the other driver only has $25,000 liability coverage – you need $225,000 of UM/UIM coverage to fully compensate you.
Bodily injury coverage (BI)
Car owners should carry at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident in BI coverage. This insurance pays a victim (or his family if the car accident victim dies) if you caused the accident. Or if someone you permitted to use your car such as a teenage son causes the accident.
Supplemental and Additional Coverages
Other types of auto insurance policies for car accidents include:
- Med Pay. Car owners can buy an additional $5,000 in medical payment coverage. This covers the 20% of medical bills and 40% of lost wages that standard PIP doesn’t cover.
- Collision insurance. This coverage pays for the damage to your car if:
- You caused the car crash
- The damage to your car (the cost to fix or replace it if it’s totaled) is more than $10,00
- The driver who caused the accident didn’t have property damage insurance – even though the car owner should have it.
- GAP insurance. This is a special type of insurance. Many car owners owe more on their car than it’s worth. For example, they may buy a brand-new car for $25,000. They may put $3,000 down and finance the rest - $22,000. Within a short time after driving it, the car’s value may be just $20,000. You now owe $2,000 more than what the car is worth. GAP insurance pays the gap – the difference between what you owe and what the car is worth. This way, if you’re car is totaled, you don’t have to pay the finance company any money.
- Extended PIP insurance. This covers your medical bills over $10,000. In many cases, just one visit to the ER can be more than $10,000. This insurance is useful especially because it can take a long time to settle your case or try it. With extended PIP, the medical providers get paid – up to the policy limits while you’re waiting.
Car owners who have more than one vehicle should consider buying Stacked UM/UIM auto insurance coverage. Your Florida car accident lawyer can explain this. Essentially, car owners of multiple vehicles can get extra UM/UIM insurance for relatively low premiums.
Car owners should also do their best to have their own health insurance policies. This policy can help with your medical bills until you settle or go to court.