Types of Auto Accident Insurance in Florida6Apr
It is legally required for drivers to maintain two types of auto accident insurance in Florida – personal injury protection and property damage liability. Auto insurance policies provide coverage for injuries and damages resulting from motor vehicle collisions. After a crash, those injured may seek to recover compensation for their resulting economic and non-economic losses.
What Types of Auto Insurance Are Required in Florida?
Florida car insurance laws require motorists to maintain personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) protection or to obtain approval for self-insurance. A recently published report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated the total cost of motor vehicle accidents occurring across the U.S. in 2019 was $340 billion. Maintaining the appropriate type of auto accident insurance in Florida can help shoulder the costs of injury victims’ losses.
Understanding Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal injury protection, or PIP, is insurance coverage that drivers carry for their own benefit. State auto insurance laws require drivers to have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage. To register a vehicle in Florida, motorists must provide proof they carry this minimum coverage.
Motorists must maintain continuous insurance coverage for the entire time their vehicles are registered. If they must cancel their policies, they should first surrender their tags and license plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Personal injury protection covers up to 80% of the reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from the auto accident, up to the policy’s limit. PIP coverage will not provide compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
If a car crash victim suffers injuries beyond those covered by the PIP policy, he or she may look into other options, such as filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Understanding Property Damage Liability (PDL)
Property damage liability in Florida is the other required auto insurance coverage. Drivers’ policies must maintain at least $10,000 in PDL coverage. Property damage liability covers the costs resulting from damage to another person’s property caused by the policyholder or an approved person driving his or her vehicle. For example, this includes the costs of repairing another car or truck involved in the crash.
Getting Approval for Self-Insurance
Qualifying motorists may choose to decline to maintain auto insurance coverage in Florida, provided they receive approval from the state. To qualify for a self-insurance certificate, motorists must meet the following criteria:
- Have a current and active Social Security number
- Have a current and active driver’s license
- A confirmed net worth of at least $40,000
Drivers who choose this option must renew their certificates annually, and they are required to provide the state with a list of all the vehicles they lease or own.
Self-insured motorists who decline to purchase auto insurance take on the responsibility of paying out-of-pocket for any resulting damages for which they are liable. For example, this may include the costs of their associated medical bills, lost wages, and the expense of repairing the damage to their vehicles or the other vehicles involved.
Understanding Florida’s No-Fault Laws
Florida is one of 12 no-fault liability states with regard to car accident damages. Under the state’s laws, regardless of who caused the crash, each person pays for his or her own associated costs. Therefore, even if one driver runs a red light and strikes another vehicle, each driver will file a claim with his or her own insurance company to recover compensation.
Sometimes, however, the resulting damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, exceed the allowed policy limits. In such cases, the victims may choose to file personal injury lawsuits to recover the difference. Understanding Florida’s no-fault laws is vital in protecting your rights and interests following a collision.
The Serious Injury Threshold
State laws allow an exception to the no-fault liability rule under certain circumstances. One such exception exists when motor vehicle accident victims suffer a permanent injury, significant disfigurement or scarring, permanent and significant loss of a bodily function, or death. In these cases, injury victims may file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, seeking third-party benefits.
To recover compensation through such a claim, plaintiffs will have to prove the other driver was responsible for the crash.
Proving Liability in Auto Accident Claims
The other driver’s auto insurance company will review the details submitted with the claim and conduct an investigation to determine responsibility. To help prove their claims, injury victims may find it helpful to submit evidence such as:
- Photographs or videos of the scene, vehicles involved, and physical injuries
- Statements from witnesses or others involved in the crash
- A copy of the police report
- Medical reports and documentation to support the type and severity of the injuries, as well as the cause
Generally, state laws require auto insurance companies to provide notice of claim approval or denial within 60 days of filing. If the claim gets denied, accident victims will get a letter stating the denial and its reason. The letter should also provide information regarding how they can pursue an appeal of the decision. If the claim gets approved, the insurance company will follow its procedures for making the necessary payout.
Is Minimum Coverage Enough?
Maintaining the state minimum in auto insurance coverage is enough to keep motorists from facing administrative or criminal penalties. However, should drivers crash, these minimums may not provide adequate coverage of the resulting losses.
To supplement the state’s minimum policy requirements, drivers may consider adding optional coverages to their auto insurance policies. Motorists are not required to carry these add-ons, but maintaining them can provide some additional financial protections in the event of a crash.
Some of the most common optional add-ons include those for collision, medical payment, bodily injury, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
The costs of repairing vehicles after an accident are often substantial, and may threaten to keep those involved off the road until their cars are fixed. A collision auto insurance policy add-on provides additional property damage coverage. Should policyholders get into wrecks with other objects or vehicles, this coverage applies to their vehicle repair costs. An optional add-on, collision coverage often applies regardless of which driver was at fault for the accident.
Medical payment is an auto insurance add-on that policyholders can purchase to provide additional coverage for medical-related expenses. Across Florida, there were more than 161,000 collisions resulting in injuries in 2022 alone. Motor vehicle accident injuries may require medical treatment from a one-time doctor visit to lifelong care, depending on their type and severity.
After a crash, medical payment coverage applies to the associated emergent and ongoing healthcare costs for policyholders and their passengers. Generally, it covers up to 20% of medical bills not covered by PIP, in addition to amounts over the PIP limit.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily injury liability is a supplemental coverage to the PIP minimum. Sometimes, the losses injury victims suffer as a result of car crashes exceed the $10,000 policy limit. For example, this may occur in cases of severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment and ongoing care, such as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury.
In these cases, bodily injury liability coverage kicks in to pick up the difference, up to the add-on’s limit. Typically, bodily injury coverage will pay up to $100,000 per person, and up to $300,000 per accident.
Despite laws requiring motorists to maintain auto insurance, many still get behind the wheel without having the minimum coverage. The Insurance Information Institute reports that approximately one out of every eight drivers on the road in 2019 did not have auto insurance, or lacked the minimum policy coverages.
When someone gets into an accident with an uninsured driver in Florida, he or she may face financial challenges stemming from the crash, in addition to dealing with the physical and emotional toll.
Consequences for Lack of Auto Insurance Coverage
State authorities may take administrative action against motorists found driving without the required amount of insurance coverage. The state may suspend a person’s driver’s license or vehicle registration for up to three years. To have their driving privileges reinstated after the suspension, motorists must pay a fee of up to $500.The drivers who lack the appropriate types of auto accident insurance in Florida may face legal and administrative consequences. For the victims of these collisions, however, the at-fault drivers lacking adequate coverage may affect their ability to recover full and fair compensation. Consequently, they may consider working with a car accident lawyer to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.