Auto Coverage Options

The State of Florida Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements are: $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) as long as you have a valid Florida tag, even if the vehicle is in another state or inoperative. There are no exemptions in the law. However, if you have been involved in a crash, or been convicted of certain offenses, you may be required to purchase bodily injury liability coverage (BIL).

Bodily Injury Liability (BI)This auto insurance coverage protects you in case of an accident involving injuries to others. The auto insurance coverage will extend to you or family members named on the policy. This auto insurance coverage will also cover those same people when driving someone else’s car (as long as it is with permission).

The limits of coverage are usually displayed as two numbers, such as 100/300. The first number is the per person limit for injuries, including death, and the second number is the per accident limit for two or more persons sustaining bodily injury.

When do you need Bodily Injury Liability auto insurance? You’ve had an accident, it was your fault, and someone got hurt. State required minimum levels of auto insurance usually focus exclusively on bodily injury liability coverage. This is because they want to ensure that an innocent bystander who is hurt while you are driving will receive compensation. With this in mind, you’ll generally want more than the required minimum auto insurance coverage – particularly if you have personal assets you want to protect. In most cases (unless you are very wealthy) you shouldn’t expect a claim or lawsuit against you for more than your auto insurance coverage unless the injuries sustained were very severe. But you have to be aware that it could happen and juries are quick to apply punitive settlements where injuries are severe. Therefore, buy a reasonable amount of auto liability insurance; keeping in mind your own circumstances as well as reasonable medical costs for an injury so that you are appropriately insured.

Property Damage Liability (PD): Property liability coverage is for damage to other people’s property caused by you (or your vehicle when someone else is driving with your permission). In the vast majority of cases this damage will be to another car. However, this auto insurance property liability coverage will also pay for damage to public property (lamp posts, telephone poles) or other personal property like fences, buildings or other structures.

You can make some calculations to determine what auto insurance you are comfortable carrying. What is the cost of a current ‘high-end’ car? You might consider enough auto coverage to be able to pay for repairs to an SUV, for instance.

Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP): This coverage is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in many cases, lost wages. PIP pays for injury to you and your passengers regardless of who is at fault. PIP coverage is mandatory in Florida.The intention was to provide injured drivers up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage in lieu of establishing fault through the court system. The goal was to reduce payment delay for injured drivers, as well as limit the utilization of the court system. PIP coverage makes the individual responsible for their own injuries in an accident regardless of fault.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM)This auto insurance coverage is to protect you from others who either don’t have or don’t have enough liability auto insurance coverage. Even though the State of Florida requires a certain minimum level of liability auto insurance, some people will not have auto insurance. Some drivers may have allowed their auto insurance to lapse, others may have only the minimum and then seriously injure you. Or perhaps you’ve been hit by a ‘hit and run’ driver. This is when this coverage would apply.

This uninsured auto insurance or underinsured auto insurance coverage comes into play when:

  • You, a member of your family or a driver of your vehicle is hurt in a collision with an uninsured driver.
  • You, a member of your family or a driver of your vehicle is hurt in a collision with a ‘hit and run’ driver.
  • You are hurt and it’s not your fault, but the other driver doesn’t have enough auto insurance to pay for your injuries.
  • You are hit by an uninsured or underinsured vehicle as a pedestrian.

Comprehensive Coverage (COMP)If your car is stolen or damaged by something other than a collision, with either a car or an object, comprehensive car insurance coverage will reimburse you.

What does this mean? If your car is damaged in the following ways you are covered by comprehensive car insurance:

Fire Missles
Earthquake Explosions
Flood Vandalism
Windstorm Rioting
Hail Contact With Animals
Falling Objects

Be aware that some car insurance companies may have special provisions in areas which are hard-hit by natural disasters. This may require you to obtain a special rider for some kinds of damage. This will also increase the cost.

There is no set government legislation requiring comprehensive car insurance coverage on vehicles. However, if you buy a new car most banks will require that you have this comprehensive car insurance coverage as a stipulation of your car loan or lease.

Collision Coverage (COLL)Auto insurance collision coverage will pay to repair damage to your car when you hit, or are hit by, another vehicle or object, regardless of who is at fault.

Also keep in mind that you can reduce the cost of collision auto insurance coverage by taking a higher deductible. However, this will expose you to higher costs in the case of an accident. You have to weigh the short term benefit and your driving record against the cost of an accident.

One thing to keep in mind: if an accident is not your fault, your auto insurance company will attempt to recover costs from the ‘at fault’ driver’s auto insurance. If they recover their full costs they will refund you the deductible amount.