Whether you are buying a car or you have just been involved in a car accident, it is important to understand how Florida’s car insurance laws apply to your situation. Florida’s car insurance laws are different from the laws in most other states; and, if you make mistakes when purchasing a policy or filing a claim, you may find yourself without the coverage you need. In this article, we provide an overview of: (i) types of mandatory and optional car insurance in Florida, (ii) what to do after a car accident in Florida, and (iii) what to do if the insurance companies won’t pay.
This information applies to passenger vehicles operated for personal use (i.e. your personal car, truck, or SUV). Different rules and requirements apply to motorcycles, business vehicles, and vehicles used for ridesharing or delivery.
Types of Car Insurance
While most people know they need “car insurance,” most people don’t realize that there are actually several different types of car insurance coverage. In Florida, some types of car insurance coverage are mandatory and some are optional.
Mandatory Car Insurance in Florida
Florida has what is known as a “no fault” car insurance law. Under this law, any vehicle with a current Florida registration must have two types of coverage:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance provides coverage for medical bills and lost wages in the event of a car accident. This is “no fault” coverage, which means that the insurance company must pay regardless of who was at fault in the collision (with only very limited exceptions). Florida law requires all vehicles to be insured with at least $10,000 in PIP coverage.
- Property Damage Liability (PDL) – Property damage liability (PDL) insurance provides coverage when the driver of the insured vehicle is at fault in an accident. It pays for damage to other vehicles involved in the collision. It also covers damaged personal property items such as clothing and personal electronics. Florida law requires all vehicles to be insured with at least $10,000 in PDL coverage.
Optional Car Insurance in Florida
All other types of car insurance are optional in Florida. While these types of coverage are optional, it is still strongly recommended that you purchase them if you can:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) – Bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance is similar to PDL insurance, but it covers accident-related injuries instead of accident-related property damage. If you are responsible for an accident that results in “significant” or “permanent” injuries, your BIL coverage will help protect you against personal financial responsibility.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) – Along with BIL coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is one of the most important types of optional car insurance you can buy. Having this insurance allows you to recover just compensation for your injuries if an at-fault driver does not have BIL insurance, if the at-fault driver’s BIL insurance isn’t enough, or if the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident.
- Collision Coverage – Collision coverage pays for the cost to repair or replace your vehicle in the event of a crash with another vehicle or a single-vehicle accident (with some exceptions). Similar to PIP, collision coverage is provided on a “no fault” basis. If you are involved in a crash with an at-fault driver who has PDL insurance, your collision coverage will apply if the driver’s PDL coverage is not enough.
- Comprehensive Coverage – Comprehensive coverage applies when your vehicle is damaged in an incident that isn’t covered by your collision insurance. This includes damage due to fire, theft, storms, and collisions with animals.
- Other Types of Coverage – Vehicle owners and lessees in Florida have the option to purchase towing, rental reimbursement, and other types of coverage as well. When putting together your car insurance policy, it is important to carefully consider all of the options you have available.
Filing a Car Insurance Claim After a Car Accident
Now, let’s say you are involved in a car accident in Florida. How do you file an insurance claim and take advantage of the coverage that is available?
Generally speaking, the first step toward obtaining insurance coverage is to file a claim with your own insurance company. While you should file a claim promptly, it is also extremely important that you know what to say (and what not to say) when you call. As a result, we strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney before you contact your insurance company if possible.
Once you start the process, you need to remain actively involved. Protecting your legal rights is complicated, and you cannot expect the insurance companies to voluntarily pay what they owe. Some of the key steps involved in recovering just compensation after a car accident include:
- Determining which types of coverage apply given the circumstances of your accident
- Proving that the other driver was at fault (if you are entitled to PDL, BIL, or UIM coverage)
- Calculating the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries
- Negotiating a comprehensive settlement that fairly compensates you for your losses
- Taking the insurance companies to court if necessary
What if the Insurance Companies Won’t Pay?
Dealing with a situation in which the insurance companies refuse to pay for your car accident can be extremely difficult. As a result, it is a situation that you should try to avoid if at all possible. The best way to avoid insurance delay tactics and denials is to hire a lawyer immediately after your collision.
While hiring a lawyer does not guarantee that the insurance companies will treat you fairly, it greatly improves the chances that they will. It also gives you the chance to make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to maximize your financial recovery. If you wait to hire a lawyer, you will put yourself at a significant disadvantage; and, if you wait too long, a lawyer may not be able to help you. On the other hand, if you have a lawyer on your side the entire time, your lawyer can deal with the insurance companies for you, accurately calculate your short-term and long-term costs, and help you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your financial recovery.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers
The team at Brian Guralnick Injury Lawyers Demand More® and so should you. If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 983-4395 now or contact us online. Isn’t it time that you Demand More®?
You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.