Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Florida law requires all owners and registrants of motor vehicles with four wheels or more to carry a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL).
Also called Florida No-Fault insurance, PIP covers you — regardless of fault — up to the limits of your policy, which is normally $10,000. It will also cover children, members of your household and passengers who lack PIP insurance, as long as they do not own a vehicle. People riding in your vehicle who carry this insurance will receive coverage under their own PIP for their injuries. It also covers your child if he or she suffers an injury while riding on a school bus. PIP coverage protects you while in someone else’s vehicle, as a pedestrian or as a bicyclist if you suffer an injury in a crash involving a motor vehicle. Under Florida law, in order to qualify for PIP benefits, an injured victim must seek medical treatment within 14 days of an injury.
Property Damage Liability (PDL) Coverage
Property damage liability insurance pays for damages you or members of your family cause (and are liable for) to other people’s property, including motor vehicles, in a crash involving a motor vehicle. It is crucial for a victim of a motor vehicle crash to preserve all evidence, including taking photographs of all vehicles involved in the crash.
PIP and PDL are the only forms of motor vehicle insurance that Florida law requires drivers to carry. Because additional insurance coverage costs more money, many Florida drivers elect to carry only the minimum required coverage. Many insurance agents and the general public have a misconception that carrying the minimum legally required coverage (PIP and PDL) constitutes “full coverage.”
Bodily Injury Liability (BI) Coverage
Another important type of coverage (not yet required by law in Florida) is called bodily injury liability coverage. Bodily injury liability coverage pays for injuries or death to others when you or someone driving your car cause a crash involving your automobile. Your insurance company will pay for injuries up to the limits of your policy and provide legal representation for you if you get sued. In particular, your company pays for injuries caused by you or members of your family who live with you, even if they were driving someone else’s vehicle. It may also cover others who drive your automobile with your permission. This coverage also provides you with legal defense in the event the injured party sues you.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) Coverage
If you are injured in a motor vehicle crash by the negligence of another driver, and the other driver does not carry bodily injury coverage (or is driving illegally without insurance), then the only type of coverage that will compensate you for the full amount of your damages is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are in a motor vehicle crash with an at-fault driver who does not carry bodily injury liability insurance. However, underinsured motorist coverage applies when you are in a motor vehicle crash with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses.
According to a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council in 2015, Florida holds the unenviable position as the state with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, with an astounding 26.7 percent of Florida drivers being uninsured. Practically speaking, this means if you are in a motor vehicle crash in Florida, there is a greater than one-in-four chance the other driver does not carry bodily injury liability insurance.
Although uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is slightly more expensive than the minimum coverage required by Florida law, it is absolutely essential in a time of need. The marginal cost of adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to your existing policy is greatly outweighed by the immense benefits it will provide if you become the unfortunate victim of a motor vehicle crash.
If you or someone you know is injured in a motor vehicle crash due to the negligence of another, it is important to find a law firm that has the knowledge and experience to navigate complex insurance laws, the resources to litigate your claim and a proven trial record to get the best results for you at a jury trial.
Andrew Pickett, Alpizar Law, LLC
Andrew Pickett is a trial attorney with the law firm of Alpizar Law, LLC and practices in the area of personal injury and wrongful death. He joined Alpizar Law LLC in 2013 as a trial attorney. He can be contacted at Andrew@Alpizarlaw.com.