South Florida is quickly becoming infamous for its unmatched heavy traffic and high rate of car accidents. Drivers in the Miami area tend to be faster paced, career driven men and women who want to get where they’re going and they want to get to their destination fast. It’s because of this fast paced lifestyle, and the lack of attention paid to the rules of the road, that auto insurance rates have soared over the last several years, especially in the south. Just like several other states that cater to a high paced lifestyle, as well as heavy traffic at nearly all hours of the day (Los Angeles and New York City, for example), Miami has some of the highest automotive insurance premiums in the country–and what’s worse: hardly any Floridians are covered, or they’re woefully underinsured if they are.
Demystifying flashy car insurance commercials
When it comes to demystifying car insurance, we often endure singing, dancing spokespeople (or lizards) on television commercials that tell us we can “Save 15% or More on Car Insurance!” while not truly understanding what that policy actually entails. Does that lower priced policy cover everything a driver needs in the event of an accident? Most of the time, these commercials are offering the bare minimum amount of coverage to carry the claim they’re saving drivers money. The truth is, insurance companies hope that they can distract drivers from what’s not covered with flashy commercials, cute animals, and attractive actors. It’s important to understand the reality of the auto insurance policy you select, no matter how entertaining the commercials.
To further demystify automotive insurance, this writeup will thoroughly cover the following:
- Why Florida’s lax laws are not an excuse to cut down on car insurance coverage
- What goes into choosing a sound car insurance policy?
- Why ignoring the fine print is a mistake
- Choosing a better car insurance policy
Florida’s lax laws are not an excuse to cut down on car insurance coverage
Although insurance policies vary from state to state, and Florida’s laws are different from nearly anywhere else in the country, all policies have at least one thing in common: licensed drivers are required by law to carry some form of car insurance, even if it’s not enough to protect them. With Florida’s lax laws and drivers drastically underinsured, it’s a good idea for drivers who pride themselves on safety to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Safe drivers carry this type of coverage, even though it’s not required by law in every state.
In 2018, as part of our ongoing series of articles relating to insurance coverage, we first explored what drivers most need to know when selecting an auto insurance policy that fits their lifestyle, and what coverage best protects them in the event of a motor vehicle accident. Now, we’ll move on to exploring the more in-depth side of automotive insurance, and how these pricier policies can provide peace of mind, making the expense worth it.
What goes into choosing a sound car insurance policy?
The first thing we want to look at is what actually goes into a car insurance policy that offers peace of mind, and not just money saved. It’s important for drivers to understand exactly what they’re getting–and what they’re not–before any contracts are signed. The last thing a driver wants is to end up with a policy that doesn’t fully cover them in the event of an accident; all the money they thought they saved will end up covering what their meager policy does not. Medical bills, emotional anguish and PTSD, and lost wages are enough to deal with after a motor vehicle accident, a driver’s lacking car insurance coverage shouldn’t be added to that list.
Why ignoring the fine print is a mistake
Selecting an auto insurance policy is complicated and stressful. What do you need? What can you do without? The answer, thankfully, is an easy one to answer: you don’t want to leave anything out. Part of being a safe driver is making sure yourself and your loved ones who drive with you (or who are driving your vehicle) are as protected as possible in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as an accident or a hit-and-run.
Choosing a better car insurance policy
On the Shaked Law Resource, we offer our readers lawyer-backed facts and nothing else. No animated lizards here, no matter how endearing. So what do Florida drivers need to protect themselves fully in the event of an accident or worse, a hit and run? Let’s take a closer look at what the insurance companies aren’t telling drivers in all that flashy song and dance.
The following insurance policies offer coverage above and beyond the bare minimum required by Florida law:
- Bodily Injury Liability: This type of insurance coverage is exactly what it sounds like: insurance coverage that offers protection in the event a driver sustains a bodily injury in an automobile accident, or you injure someone else while behind the wheel. Depending on the policy, family members can be listed and covered as well, should a driver grant them permission to drive the car. This type of car insurance coverage is exceptionally important for parents of new drivers. Parents who allow their teenage son or daughter to drive their car are putting themselves at-risk should they elect not to have this coverage handy.
- Property Damage Liability: This coverage specifically handles payment in the event that the driver damages another person’s property (namely their car) while behind the wheel. In addition to that, it can protect the driver from paying out of pocket for damaging other non-automotive property as such: phone lines, fences, and windows.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): In most states, auto insurance legislation requires the driver to obtain medical coverage that will pay the expenses of injuries to a driver and their passengers (in the policyholder’s car). Occasionally, Personal Injury Protection can cover certain medical expenses and lost wages. Checking in with an insurer to retain the most up to date information on the coverage available is the best way to find out a specific state’s requirements.
- Collision Coverage: In the event that a car is totaled in a collision, this coverage is designed to protect the driver financially from the burden of having to replace the car out of pocket. This coverage can also protect a driver should the vehicle flip. Collision Coverage policies also protect against potholes and other unforeseen roadwork that could damage a vehicle due to no fault of the driver.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage is of utmost importance because it protects the driver from another’s negligence. Should the driver who caused the accident or hit and run have not chosen to carry an insurance policy, this coverage will protect the driver who was struck from having to pay for that level of carelessness. Occasionally, accidents happen, and drivers don’t want to pay the price for someone who chose to drive in a negligent manner thus putting other drivers at-risk with their actions. This is the type of policy safe drivers should always have but hope they don’t need to use.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage: When an at-fault driver doesn’t have the kind of coverage needed to pay for totaling a car, this is the coverage a safe driver most wants to have on hand. Additionally, this coverage can protect drivers in the event they’re hit by a negligent driver while walking, resulting in a pedestrian accident.
- Comprehensive Coverage: Probably the most important coverage a driver can select to protect themselves. This policy type can reimburse for theft (of the car itself or items in the car at the time it was stolen). This policy also protects the driver from having to pay out of pocket for damage caused by anything other than an accident with another vehicle, such as: fire, floods, hail damage, falling objects, and objects that come into contact with the car and cause damage (such as a golf ball). There are certain states that do not require drivers to carry this type of coverage, however, if a car is leased or the driver is making loan payments, the lender or the car dealership may require it anyway.
What happens after a car accident in Florida?
After sustaining injuries or damage to a vehicle after a car accident in Florida, it’s important for a driver to retain experienced legal representation. That is, after any medical care needed to stabilize life threatening injuries has been administered. After a driver is out of harm’s way and has begun the process of financial recovery, the first thing they must do is sit down with a Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer.
Consulting with a lawyer who has experience taking on the insurance companies is the only way to “insure” that financial compensation is adequate in relation to what could amount to catastrophic injuries sustained by no fault of the driver. While all of our legal writeups are lawyer-backed and provide the most up to date, accurate information available, only sitting down with a Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer for a private consultation can provide legal advice specific to a victim’s own case.