I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell me that they have “full coverage” when talking about their automobile insurance coverage. Just the other day, a client advised me that he had full coverage, but when I looked at his policy, it was clear that he was unclear of what “full coverage”” really means in Florida.
In Florida, there is no car insurance coverage that goes by the name “full coverage.” Full coverage could mean that you have anything required by the State of Florida; but it could also mean that you have additional insurance coverage that better protects you and your family after a car accident. The difference in these two definitions can have dramatic impact after a car accident.
Full Coverage According to Florida Law
Some could consider that you have full coverage automobile insurance if you have only Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and Property Damage. That is because these two coverages are the only statutorily required automobile insurance coverages.
Personal Injury Protection (also known as PIP and No-Fault) coverage can be found at Florida Statute 627.736 – Required personal injury protection benefits; exclusions; priority; claims. This statute states all owners of a vehicle are required to carry personal injury protection coverage that provide $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits resulting from bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle as follows. These benefits pay eighty percent (80%) of all reasonable expenses for medically necessary medical, surgical, X-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices and medically necessary ambulance, hospital, and nursing services. In addition, this required coverage pays sixty percent (60%) of any loss of gross income and loss of earning capacity per individual from inability to work proximately caused by the injury sustained by the injured person, plus all expenses reasonably incurred in obtaining from others ordinary and necessary services in lieu of those that, but for the injury, the injured person would have performed without income for the benefit of his or her household. There are many restrictions and requirements associated with Personal Injury Protection benefits that have and will be addressed in past and future blog articles.
In addition to Personal Injury Protection coverage, the State of Florida requires all vehicles owners to purchase property damage coverage. This requirement can be found at Florida Statute 324.022 – Financial responsibility for property damage. This statute states that “every owner or operator of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this state shall establish and maintain the ability to respond in damages for liability on account of accidents arising out of the use of the motor vehicle in the amount of $10,000 because of damage to, or destruction of, property of others in any one crash.” As you can read from the statute, this required coverage pays for damage to property of others – not the bodily injuries of others.
These are the only two automobile insurance coverages that are required in the State of Florida. Thus, someone carrying just Personal Injury Protection and Property Damage coverages could be deemed to have “full coverage” when it comes to their automobile insurance . However, these coverages do nothing to protect you and your family from actions against you nor provides protection if you are injured in a car accident caused by someone with little or no liability coverage. Doesn’t sound like full coverage to me.
True Full Coverage
In order to have true full coverage and provide the full protection to you and your family after a car accident, additional types of coverage is needed. These include bodily injury liability coverage; uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage; collision coverage; and comprehensive coverage. There are additional types of coverage available that could provide additional coverage, but we will briefly address these four types.
Bodily injury liability coverage would protect you if you or a permissive driver of your vehicle was negligent and caused a car accident that resulted in bodily injuries to another person. The injured party would make a claim against your bodily injury liability coverage and the insurance company would try to resolve that claim without you having to pay the injured person for their damages. Without this coverage, the injured person can sue you for their damages and you would be solely responsible for their damages.
Uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage is the most important coverage when talking about full coverage. This is the one of the only coverages that protects you and your family from other drivers if you are injured in a car accident. Uninsured motorist coverages will compensate you for your damages if you are injured in a car accident caused by someone who carried no bodily injury liability coverage (remember, bodily injury liability coverage is not needed in order to have “full coverage” in Florida). Underinsured motorist coverage compensate you and your family if the damages exceed the bodily injury liability coverage of the person who caused the car crash.
Collision coverage pays for damages to your vehicle in the event of an accident notwithstanding who was at fault for the car accident. Yes, the at fault driver is supposed to carry property damage in Florida (see above), but should they fail to carry the coverage or there is a dispute about liability, your collision coverage would get your car repaired (after your deductible).
Comprehensive coverage is designed to cover vandalism, theft, and other damages that are not the result of an accident.
So, check your insurance policy now – before a car accident – to see what coverage you have to protect you and your family. Is it statutory “full coverage” that provides you little protection or is it true “full coverage” that provides you the needed protection after a Florida car accident. If you are unsure, my staff and I are happy to review your policy and advise.
Drive safely and watch out for those you don’t!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.