Finding the right Florida car insurance coverage

Understanding car insurance coverage and selecting your best fit can often seem daunting. This guide will help you strategize your car insurance requirements in Florida, demystify the policy options that suit your needs, and shed light on how this protects you legally and financially.

Mandatory Minimum Insurance Requirements in Florida

Securing the right auto insurance can often involve a thorough understanding of statutory requirements and personal needs. Understanding this information is essential to ensure you are adequately covered and avoid potential pitfalls.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Explained

Personal Injury Protection (PIP), an essential component of Florida’s auto insurance system, covers you irrespective of fault in an accident. In Florida, PIP is designed to pay for, up to your policy limit:

  • 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses linked to the accident.
  • 60 percent of lost wages caused by the accident.
  • Up to $5,000 in death benefits if the accident turns fatal.

To utilize these benefits, however, it’s essential to note that initial services and care must be provided within 14 days after the accident. In Florida, PIP covers the policyholder and certain passengers, including relatives in the same household and others driving your car with permission. If the accident occurs outside Florida, but within the U.S. or Canada, PIP covers you and your household relatives, provided the vehicle is yours.

Property Damage Liability (PD)

Property Damage Liability (PD) is another car insurance requirement in Florida. Its role is substantial, as it covers damage you or your family members may cause to another person’s property while driving. These properties may include anything from another car to a fence, a telephone pole, a building, or even your neighbor’s prized mango tree.

Coverage applies even if you drive someone else’s car or allow someone to drive your car with your permission based on the terms and conditions of your policy. In Florida, the minimum PD coverage required is $10,000. This means your insurance company may cover up to this amount for property damage you cause in a single accident. However, if the cost of repairs or replacements extends beyond this, it may be your responsibility to pay. Insurance companies typically allow drivers to raise their PD coverage up to $100,000 or even more.

Bodily Injury Liability (BIL)

In Florida, while you are not required to show proof of Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) to get your vehicle registered, you are required to carry a minimum of $10,000. Remember, Florida’s no-fault insurance does not cover damages to the other party if you are at fault—it covers you. BIL steps in here, covering severe and permanent injury or death to others when you’re responsible for an accident.

It covers those driven by you, residents of your household, and even those driving your car with your permission. For DUI convictions, however, Florida law stipulates that BIL is required for three years post-license reinstatement, with coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

While not required in many cases, having a sizable BIL plan provides a tangible financial safety net if an accident occurs, potentially saving drivers from considerable out-of-pocket costs. Consequently, many experts advocate for this coverage, particularly for those with a home or other assets, to protect them from potential lawsuits.

Beyond the Bare Minimum Coverage: Optional Car Insurance in Florida

For many, if not most vehicle owners, minimum coverage is inadequate. So, in this section, we review typical optional car insurance.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM)

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage is yet another optional but highly recommended insurance coverage for Florida drivers due to its alarming rate of uninsured drivers.

UM insurance covers you, your passengers, or family members when you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover total damages sustained by you—be it while you’re driving, riding in someone else’s car, or even if you’re struck by a car as a pedestrian. It applies in a hit-and-run situation or a “phantom” vehicle accident. It compensates for medical expenses, lost wages (beyond your PIP coverage), bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death resulting from a motor vehicle accident.

Opting for UM coverage ensures you are better protected financially in the unfortunate event of an incident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Remember that your UM coverage limit cannot exceed your BIL limit if you have one.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Comprehensive and collision coverages are optional additions to your car insurance policy in Florida, but they may be mandatory if your car is financed.

Collision insurance covers the cost of repairs to your car if you collide with another vehicle or object, or if it overturns—regardless of who is at fault. It does not cover injuries to people or damage to others’ property.

Comprehensive insurance, on the other hand, covers losses from incidents other than collisions. This includes theft, fire, windstorm, flood, vandalism, falling objects, or even hitting an animal.

Florida law mandates insurance companies to waive the deductible for windshield replacement under comprehensive coverage, a bid to encourage drivers to replace damaged windshields immediately.

Comprehensive and collision coverages may repair or replace your vehicle according to the specific conditions of your policy. This comprehensive protection is essential for new, comparatively more expensive, or financed cars.

Additional Options for Enhanced Security

You can also purchase car insurance beyond the optional coverage discussed above, giving you additional peace of mind and more comprehensive coverage.

Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay)

Medical Payment coverage, or MedPay, operates similarly to PIP but exceeds its limits. While PIP coverage covers 80% of medical costs and 60% of lost wages, MedPay can pick up where PIP leaves off, paying 20% of medical expenses and 40% of lost wages.

MedPay can cover the policyholder, passengers, and other drivers listed on the policy, irrespective of who caused the accident. This coverage extends beyond driving—it can cover you or your family members while on foot or riding in someone else’s vehicle. You can choose a variety of limits for MedPay, usually between $500 and $10,000.

Adding MedPay to your insurance strategy bolsters one of the most valuable assets any individual has—the well-being of themselves and their loved ones.

Gap Insurance

If you finance or lease your car, consider GAP (Guaranteed Auto Protection) insurance. It covers the “gap” between what your vehicle is worth and what you still owe on your auto loan or lease in the unfortunate event of an accident that totals your car.

Here’s how it works. Suppose the current market value of your car is $20,000, but you still owe $25,000 on your auto loan or lease. If your car gets totaled, your comprehensive or collision coverage will pay only the current market value of your car, i.e., $20,000. GAP insurance can cover the remaining $5,000 debt you have.

Usually, you can purchase GAP coverage from your auto insurer. Before buying, consider your vehicle’s age, depreciation rate, auto loan amount, and ability to pay off the remaining amount if your car is totaled.

Customizing your Policy with Other Types of Optional Insurance

Customizing your policy with other types of optional coverage can provide additional security that caters to specific needs or circumstances. Some of the commonly considered add-ons include:

Rental Car Reimbursement: This coverage reimburses you for the cost of a rental car if yours needs repairs after an accident, subject to daily and overall limits.

Roadside Assistance / Towing Coverage: This coverage helps with the costs of towing or emergency roadside services like jump-starts, flat tires, fuel delivery when you run out of gas, and lockout services if you lose your keys or lock them in your car. Roadside assistance can be a lifesaver, particularly in unfamiliar areas or unexpected situations.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D): This coverage can pay for death and specific injuries like loss of limbs, eyesight, speech, etc., to the policyholder or their passengers following an auto accident.

Conclusion

Navigating the landscape of car insurance requirements in Florida can appear complex owing to its uniqueness. When choosing a policy, consider the insurer’s reputation, claims handling, customer service, and cost. Remember that the cheapest policy may not provide you with the protection you need if an accident occurs.

ABC Dennis Insurance

ABC Dennis Insurance is an independent insurance agency established in 1997 that provides automobile insurance to its customers. If you have not reviewed your insurance coverages this year, please call our office at (813) 949-7765 or email us.

Besides auto insurance, we can help with all your insurance needs. As an independent agency, we find the best insurance coverage with the most competitive rates.