Florida Car Insurance Commercial – “They Jacked Up My Rates!”

I saw a car insurance commercial this morning for a low cost insurance carrier that sells policies here in Florida.  There was a good looking, smart looking guy who says "I got my car insurance bill in the mail this morning and they jacked up my rates by $50; then I called (insert low cost insurance carrier here) and they gave me a better rate." 

What they don't say is that most likely, they gave you less insurance.  The agent may have said they are selling you "full coverage" but here in Florida that term is a bit (actually a lot) misleading.  Full coverage in Florida means PIP and collision coverage, and that's all folks.  It does not include BI or UM coverage. 

If you dont' know what PIP, BI and UM stand for, you're not alone, I meet with new clients all the time who don't really understand how the no-fault car insurance system works in Florida.  Why don't they understand?  I believe a major part of the problem is that when they buy insurance the agent says something like "this is full coverage" and the person thinks they are getting full coverage – but in Florida where BI and UM are not mandatory, full coverage doesn't really fully protect you.

Here's the short version of what you need to know when you buy car insurance in Florida:

PIP (Personal Injury Protection): Everyone is required to carry PIP which stands for "Personal Injury Protection."  Generally it covers 80% of your medical bills after an accident regardless of who caused the accident; it also covers 60% of lost wages, and reimbursement for such things as mileage to and from your doctor's office, prescriptions and other expenses you may have after an accident related to your injuries.  PIP coverages can vary:  If you get a PIP deductible, say of $1,000.00, this means that the first $1,000.00 of your expenses will be applied to your deductible; translation "it won't be paid"; and then the PIP kicks in after the deductible is met.  You can also buy Med Pay or extended PIP coverage which provides you with more coverage.

BI (Bodily Injury): BI coverage provides coverage from the at fault driver to the auto accident victim.  Many people are surprised to learn that BI coverage is not required in Florida.  A lot of people learn this too late, when they are sitting in a lawyer's office after an accident and the lawyer is explaining to them how the at fault driver didn't have any BI coverage.  This is not when you want to learn about BI coverage.  Remember that carrier with the commercial saying how they have the lowest rates - they have low rates because generally they don't sell BI coverage or they only sell a $10/20 policy.  Ok, you say, what does that mean?  BI policies are typically sold in the following increments: 

$10,000.00 per person / $20,000.00 per occurrance

$25,000.00 per person / $50,000.00 per occurrance

$100,000.00 per person / $300,000.00 per occurrance

You can contract for any amount and the higher the coverage, the more it will cost.  What you want to know about BI is that the "per person" part means just that.  If Driver A causes an accident and injures Driver B and Passenger C then there is $10,000.00 in coverage available (notice I say available – this doesn't mean the insurance carrier is necessarily going to pay that whole amount) for Driver B and $10,000.00 in coverage available for Passenger C.  Problems arise when the accident also caused injury to Driver D and Passenger E; then the "per occurrance" becomes important – there is only $20,000.00 per occurrance so that the $20,000.00 has to be divided amoung all four claimants (people that got injured and are now making insurance claims).  When there is no BI coverage or not enough BI coverage, then UM coverage becomes important.

UM (Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist): Remember this "UM protects You" and you need UM coverage no matter what your insurance agent says.  UM basically works exactly like BI coverage except that it covers you after someone else has caused an accident; it kicks in when either there is no BI coverage or when there is not enough BI coverage to adequately pay for you damages.

Here's a little story about UM coverage:  Several years ago, my office receptionist got her first car (a brand new corvette – but thats a completely different story), and she asked me to help her buy car insurance.  We called an insurance agent on speaker phone.  She asked about what type of coverage she should get.  I had already told her to get UM coverage so she knew to ask for it, but that agent tried to convince her every which way till Sunday how she didn't need it – that she'd have full coverage without it; that if she had health insurance she didn't need it; that he could save her money if she didn't get it…. on and on and on – the agent just didn't want to sell it to her.  I've heard rumors that insurance carriers encourage and even compensate the agents for NOT selling UM coverage.  This doesn't seem to make sense, does it?  You would think that the insurance agent would want to sell more coverage – but again, rumor has it that insurance carriers make (and keep – by not having to pay UM claims) more money by not selling UM. 

If you take away one thing from this blog post take away this:



I cannot stress that enough.  So many people don't understand this concept and it isn't really their fault – the system is confusing.  But simply remember "UM protects YOU!" and you need it no matter what the insurance agent tells you.

Back to the concept of BI not being mandatory in Florida, if you are hit by someone with no BI or a low amount of BI coverage or if there are lots of claimants involved in an accident sharing the same "per occurrance" BI; then you need UM coverage!! 


For more information or a free consultation on your legal issue contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott PLLC, your injury law and family law attorneys, at 727-300-4878. http://www.yourstpetelawyers.com




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