Are You Covered? Legal Advice on Car Insurance
By Adam Baron, Esq.
Driving in South Florida, as we all know, is like negotiating an obstacle course, except on a daily basis and the occasional car accident is an inevitability. The question is, are you adequately covered by your auto insurance if you get in an accident? Let’s take a look at major coverages and what they mean:
PIP and PD
Florida is what’s known as a “no fault” state and because this is actually only partially true, just having PIP and PD leaves you terribly vulnerable. Personal injury Protection (PIP) is the coverage that will pay your medical bills in an accident, regardless as to who is at fault. The problem is that it only pays 80% of those charges and is limited to $10,000. Property Damage (PD) pays for the damage to another person’s car that you cause. PD cannot be used to fix your own vehicle, for that you need Collision coverage.
While the $10,000 may be adequate for most small injuries, what will you do if you are hospitalized with severe injuries, or what if you cause an accident that inflicts severe injuries on somebody else?
BI and UM
Bodily injury liability (BI) will cover you if you cause injury to others. While the injured person is first required to submit their own bills to their own PIP, as discussed earlier, it is only up to $10,000 and does not include damages like pain and suffering. This is why despite being a “no-fault state” you can still be sued by the other party for the rest of the medical bills and for other types of damages. The very minimum BI policy you can purchase is $10000. If you can afford more, then buy it, as $10,000 can easily be depleted by one hospital stay for a just a couple of days. If you are ever sued because you cause an accident, you will be protected.
The worse situation is when YOU are the victim of an accident and the person that hits you doesn’t have any insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance. There are thousands and thousands of people driving in south Florida with just PIP and PD. I can’t tell you the number of times that injured people come to me with this scenario and I cannot help them due to the other driver not having adequate coverage. The sad part is, if the injured person had only signed up for Uninsured Motor Vehicle coverage (UM) they would be protected. Your UM coverage stands in the shoes for the person that injures you and will cover you, including for pain and suffering type damages. I can’t stress enough how important this coverage; don’t learn the hard way. Again, buy as much of this as you can afford. If you are the family bread-winner, get at least $100,000.
Adam Baron is an attorney practicing in the areas of personal injury and workers' compensation for the last twenty years. He has offices in Coral Springs, North Miami Beach and Naples, and is a resident of the Woodlands. He can be reached at 954-247-4878.