Common Automobile Insurance Misconceptions
“I have full coverage” Part I
New personal injury clients often make the claim that they have ‘full coverage’ following a motor vehicle accident. It is unclear where this term was first used, but I am certain it was misunderstood. What most people end up having is legal coverage. They may not have uninsured motorists protection and they may not even have collision or rental. The next several blogs will cover, generally, the importance of some of the coverage drivers should seriously consider, irrespective of the costs.
“I have full coverage” – Florida’s No-Fault law Part II
In Florida, one need only have personal injury protection (PIP), which covers that person’s own medicals, irrespective of fault (Florida’s no-fault law). Most people shop for insurance, not for the use of it, but for the price of it. PIP, which covers your own accident related medicals, can have deductibles or no deductible. If you are not in a position to pay the amount of the deductible, I recommend paying a few dollars more per month and going without a deductible. You may also buy more than the basic $10,000.00 worth of coverage. Medical Payments can be added to this portion of the policy as well, and again, is to be used in the event that you need medical coverage following an accident. This legal requirement is only a benefit to yourself and perhaps family members that live with you, and does not apply to anyone’s personal injury claims.
“I have full coverage” – Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection Part III
Often times, the at-fault driver also has minimal coverage (remember they are shopping for price too). This leads my clients to be angry at the at-fault driver for being so poorly underinsured or even uninsured. If they do not have uninsured motorists protection, then generally they will be stuck with the limits of the other driver’s bodily injury coverages for their personal injuries. The other driver may have limits that end up being less than my clients’ total medical bills, even after their own PIP pays out, leaving them with no recovery, or worse, still owing medical bills.
I often try and educate my clients that they not only need coverage against injuries they may cause, (a minimum of $100,000.00), but that they need to also ensure themselves against other drivers’ who may not have any (or not enough coverage), that cause injury to them. This is uninsured motorist protection, which when rejected, Florida Statute makes the insurance companies obtain signatures with specific language and font size that the insured is wanting to reject it. This is the importance of uninsured motorist protection in Florida.
Example: Client sustains injury to his leg that requires surgery when the at-fault driver runs a red light. His medicals are $50,000.00. His PIP pays out the limits of $10,000.00. He has no health insurance. The surgeon and physicians establish a lien against his personal injury case, however, he soon learns that the at-fault driver has but a $10,000.00 bodily injury limit. The at-fault driver’s insurance company quickly tenders that limit, but now leaves $30,000.00 in unpaid medical bills, not to mention, any money to pay my injured client for his lost wages, loss of earning capacity, future medical bills, or any pain and suffering he has endured.
If my client had uninsured motorist protection of $100,000.00, not only will his insurance company be responsible for paying the balance of the medical bills, but he would be entitled to recover for his personal injuries, including his wage loss, future medicals, and his pain and suffering. Now, while perhaps he is not made completely whole, he will at least enjoy knowing that he thwarted a very unfortunate circumstance.