In difficult economic times, many drivers may opt not to carry auto insurance - even when state law requires it. According to a study by the Insurance Research Council, 23 percent of drivers in Florida were uninsured in 2007. Only New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma had higher percentages of uninsured drivers. By 2010, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that the percentage of uninsured drivers in Florida could increase to 28 percent. In addition to the large number of uninsured drivers in Florida, Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury insurance.
Unfortunately, the odds are good that you will be in a car crash at some point. In 2006, there were 256,200 traffic crashes in Florida, resulting in 214,914 injuries and 3,365 fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Because of the high number of uninsured drivers and the fact that Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury insurance, there is a real possibility that there will be no insurance available to compensate you for injuries sustained in a car accident. To ensure that you are fully protected, you should carry your own bodily injury liability and uninsured and/or underinsured motorist insurance.
Required Auto Insurance in Florida
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that in the event of a car accident, your insurance company will pay medical bills, lost wages and prescription reimbursement (up to your policy limit) regardless of whether you caused the accident or another party was at fault. Florida vehicle owners must carry both personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage insurance. The minimum amount of coverage required is $10,000 PIP and $10,000 for property damage, which are very low minimums. PIP compensates people injured in automobile accidents for medical expenses, even if they caused the accident. PIP does not cover pain and suffering. Property damage liability insurance covers any damage to other peoples' cars and/or property damaged from your use of a covered automobile and/or motor vehicle.
Florida Does Not Require Bodily Injury Liability
Even though Florida drivers must carry property damage insurance, they do not have to carry bodily injury liability coverage. Bodily injury liability insurance covers a driver if he or she causes serious or permanent injuries and/or death resulting from an automobile accident. It covers such things as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
While there is no general requirement that drivers carry bodily injury liability, if a driver causes an accident, but cannot afford to pay for the damages he or she caused, then that driver must purchase bodily injury coverage and provide proof of such coverage to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on Form SR-22.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance Fully Protects Drivers
Uninsured and/or underinsured motorist insurance will cover you if you sustain injuries in a car crash caused by a driver that is either uninsured and/or underinsured. Serious injuries can require expensive medical treatment and ongoing therapy. It is essential to carry uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself and your family in the event of an auto accident.
The low amounts of PIP and property damage insurance required by Florida law can quickly be eaten up by medical and repair bills after even a minor crash. While people may think they have "full coverage" on their automobile because they have the State of Florida's minimum requirements, PIP and property damage; often it is not sufficient. Florida drivers should carry bodily injury liability, uninsured and/or underinsured motorist insurance to be fully covered in the event of an accident.
Adding additional bodily injury liability and uninsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy is not likely to greatly increase the cost, but it will provide you with significant benefits and peace of mind. If you have been injured in a car accident, an attorney can explain your legal options.