Recent changes to Florida law now make it harder to hold your insurance company accountable if they don’t do the right thing. So it’s more important than ever that you educate yourself about your insurance policy.
PIP, UM, Collision, Comprehensive, Bodily injury, Property damage – these are just some of the coverages you can purchase on your car insurance policy. So what do they all mean? What types of insurance are required in Florida? And what is full coverage in Florida?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP stands for personal injury protection. This is mandatory coverage in Florida so, if you purchased a car insurance policy, you have PIP. It is No-Fault coverage and applies to anyone who is injured in crash – regardless of whether they were at fault. So whether you caused the accident, or someone injuries you, you get the benefit of this coverage. PIP can be used for two things: medical expenses and lost wages. Those medical expenses can include doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and mileage reimbursement to and from your appointments. PIP pays 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000. It can also reimburse 60% of your lost wages. However, the $10,000 limit applies to medical expenses and lost wages. So once $10,000 has been paid for your medical expenses and lost wages, this coverage is exhausted.
Property Damage Liability
Property Damage is the only other coverage required on every Florida policy. This is liability coverage. Meaning that it only applies if you are at-fault (or liable) in a crash and covers property damage that you caused to others. For example, if you damaged another car, a building, or a mailbox. Property damage liability does NOT cover damage to YOUR car.
Full Coverage in Florida
Now before I talk about the other types of coverages, let’s talk about the phrase “FULL COVERAGE.” A phrase often used but rarely means what people think it means. Many people think they have Full Coverage if they have PIP and property damage coverage. But there is no single definition of Full coverage. And just because you have met Florida’s minimal requirements does not mean you have FULL coverage.
Comprehensive and Collision
Comprehensive and Collision cover damage to your vehicle. Collision coverage applies if your car was damaged in a “collision” – whether you collided with another car, a wall, or a light pole. If your car is damaged from something other than a collision – like a fallen tree, vandalism, or theft – then you need Comprehensive (or Comp). Again, property damage coverage only covers damages you cause to someone else’s property. Where Collision and Comprehensive covers your car regardless of who is at-fault.
For example, if you caused a crash and injure someone, your insurance company would not have to pay anything on your behalf for the injuries you caused. This means you would be financially responsible for that person’s medical bills and injuries. In my opinion, if you only have PIP and property damage coverage you are not FULLY covered.
Bodily Injury Liability
No one expects to injure another person in a crash but it can happen. And that is where bodily injury coverage comes in. If you injure someone and they have medical bills, you may be legally responsible to reimburse them for these bills. And if the person suffers a permanent injury, you can be responsible to pay money damages for what they’ve lost in terms of health. Bodily injury coverage will pay for damages that you become legally responsible for after an accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage or UM is similar to bodily injury coverage except it covers YOU. If you are injured and the person that hit you either has no bodily injury coverage or does not have enough bodily injury coverage, your UM can step in. It is as if you purchased bodily injury coverage for the person that hit you. Remember, in Florida even if the person has car insurance, they do not have to have bodily injury coverage. And unfortunately many drivers in Florida are uninsured or underinsured when it comes to injury coverage, so UM is very important coverage for you to have. It should protect you and your family members that reside with you as well as any passengers in your car.
What types of car insurance should I buy?
So what can happen if you don’t have some of the coverages I talked about (or enough)? People often try to save money by removing these coverages, but you need to balance your budget with the amount of risk you can take on personally. If you suffer a permanent injury and can’t work for 6 months because of an uninsured driver, can you cover your financial obligations without uninsured motorist coverage? Or if a lawsuit is filed against you for personal injuries you caused in a crash, and you don’t have bodily injury coverage, can you cover the legal fees to defend yourself and potentially the damages you become personally responsible for? And if you are at-fault in a crash but don’t have collision coverage, can you afford to pay out of pocket for your car to be repaired or replaced?
As with any insurance purchase, you need to do a risk analysis and make sure you are properly protecting yourself and your family. Talk with a reputable insurance agent and be informed when you are selecting insurance. Remember “Full Coverage” means different things to different people. There is not a single definition of Full Coverage. However, many times people who think they have full coverage only have minimal coverage. Understanding how each type of insurance coverage works and when they apply is a good place to start.