The Basics of Car Insurance in Florida

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Although car insurance would seem relatively simple to understand, the fact that insurance laws vary amongst the 50 states can leave drivers stumped on what kind of coverage they need. If you're looking to purchase a policy in Florida, you might have some questions about what is required by law.

Fault vs. No-Fault

If you've only lived and driven in one state for a long period of time, you might not have had to think about how car insurance affects your ability to claim damages in case of an accident. A big factor in the claims process is whether or not the state has a "no fault" system. This insurance design requires drivers to claim benefits from their own insurance company if they are injured in an accident whether or not they caused it. Florida uses this system. It was originally designed to prevent car insurance disputes from becoming law suits, but some drivers might find that their own policy isn't enough to cover their recovery costs.

Personal Injury Protection

Generally, personal injury protection coverage is required in no fault states. This is the coverage that pays for the injured driver's medical bills and lost wages. Every vehicle owner is required to have $10,000 in personal injury protection, also known as "P.I.P." or "pip."

Property Damage Liability

Although no fault insurance doesn't take into account who caused the accident when it comes to medical payments, property damage is another story. Florida drivers also need to have at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage to help pay for the cost of repairing damage they may cause. This only applies to the other driver's vehicle or property that was damaged in the accident, not the at-fault driver's vehicle. For that, the driver would need additional coverage.

Reaching Policy Limits

What if the cost of recovery exceeds the limits of the driver's policy? Unfortunately, this is where the Florida no fault system falls short. If the at-fault driver doesn't have coverage to pay for the victim's injuries, the injured driver may have no choice but to sue for additional compensation. If the at-fault driver has no money or assets, then the victim may be stuck paying their own bills. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may help prevent this difficult situation, but it is not a requirement for vehicle owners in Florida.

Optional Coverage

As an insurance policyholder, you can buy additional coverage to help protect yourself and your family in a car accident. Comprehensive and Collision coverage can help pay benefits in certain circumstances of property damage, but they are not required in Florida. Bodily Injury and Uninsured Motorist coverage are not required either, but if you want to add UM to your policy, you also have to add BI. Bodily Injury coverage pays for the other person's injuries in an accident where the insured driver is at fault.

Customized Policies

Car insurance is confusing because car accidents are confusing. There are different areas of coverage to help drivers prepare for the variety of injuries or damage that can result. You can tailor a policy to match your needs and budget and talking to a professional can help you make these decisions. If you have trouble getting the benefits you are entitled to after a car accident in Florida, call an insurance attorney at the Coye Law Firm.