UNDERSTANDING HOW TO NAVIGATE YOUR OWN INSURANCE POLICY

One of the most confusing things that clients often mention when consulting with an auto accident lawyer, is understanding the various coverages (or lack of coverages) contained in their own insurance policy. This article will briefly explain some of the coverages in a typical automobile insurance policy and how they apply.

Liability Coverage: This covers your legal liability for bodily injury to others (bodily injury liability) or damage to their property (property damage liability). Florida law only requires you to have Property Damage Liability Coverage, but does not require anyone to carry bodily injury liability also known as BI coverage. The principal exclusions (items not covered by your policy) for this coverage are: (1) autos owned by you or furnished or available for the regular use of you or your family members, which have not been specifically covered under the policy, (2) vehicles with less than 4 wheels, and (3) claims for injuries to family members. Drivers that carry only the minimum mandatory coverage required by Florida law do not have coverage for injuries that they may cause to others and may be sued personally. Even though Florida law does not require drivers to carry BI liability it is highly recommended that you do obtain this coverage.

Personal Injury Protection: Also known as PIP or "no-fault" covers you, your family and certain others for bodily injuries resulting from auto accidents, without regard to who caused the accident. Under the Florida no fault PIP law, your own medical bills up to $10,000.00 are paid for by your own PIP insurance even if the accident is not your fault. PIP is intended to pay for 80% of medical expenses, 60% for loss of income, replacement household services and (if the limit has not been exhausted by other benefits) a death benefit. Personal injury protection is required under Florida law as part of the minimum mandatory coverage all drivers must carry. The principal exclusions for this coverage are injuries sustained in autos you or family members own which have not been specifically covered under the policy, and injuries to other vehicle owners required by law to have their own coverage.

Medical Expense Coverage: Also known as Med-pay, this coverage supplements the medical expenses reimbursement of PIP coverage and provides basic coverage in situations where PIP does not pay. The principal exclusions are similar to those for liability coverage. Med-Pay is not a mandatory coverage but is recommended if you can afford it.

Uninsured Motorists Coverage: Another optional coverage, this coverage pays for bodily injuries to you, family members and certain others, resulting from the negligence of others. It pays when the at-fault party has no liability insurance, or liability coverage with limits not adequate to pay for the damages incurred, or if injuries result from a hit-and-run vehicle. Your coverage may be "stacked" or "no-stacked". The principal difference between these two forms is that the total amount of protection under the stacked form is the sum of the limits applicable to each vehicle insured, whereas under the non-stacked form, the limit stated applies per accident regardless of how many vehicles you own or insure. This coverage is not part of the minimum mandatory coverage under Florida law but is recommended if you can afford it.

Collision: This covers damage to your car resulting from upset or impact with another object regardless of whether the accident was your fault or the fault of another driver. When collision coverage is included in your policy, you have the option of getting the collision damage to your vehicle repaired by your own insurance company or proceeding through the at fault drivers insurance company. If your insurance company pays the collision damage you will most likely have to pay a deductible, but your insurance carrier will then subrogate against the other drivers insurance for reimbursement.

Comprehensive: This coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from fire, theft and other direct losses not excluded. The principal exclusions often are for damage to certain electronic and sound equipment; tapes and other media; radar detectors; undeclared camper bodies; and van or pickup customized equipment.

Other Coverages: In addition, your policy may contain other provisions that add or broaden coverage, such as rental car coverage, towing, accidental death indemnity, extended pip coverage, coverage for audio, visual and date electronic equipment, and customizing equipment coverage.

Cancellation and denial of coverage: A carrier may cancel or deny coverage under a policy of insurance for non payment of premium, lapse, misrepresentation, unlicensed or unlisted drivers, unlisted household members, and various other reasons stated in the policy. It is important to keep your insurance carrier informed of any changes to your household, changes to drivers or family members, new vehicles, and any change of address.

Important to remember – Florida law only requires that drivers carry PIP and Collision coverage. Many people believe that this constitutes "full coverage" and often refer to this during consultations with us.  Hopefully after reading the above you will understand that PIP and Collision alone do not constitute "full coverage" and your insurance coverage may be insufficient to cover most accident situations.

For more information or for a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott, PA Injury and Family Law Attorneys, by calling 727-300-4878 or view our web site http://www.yourstpetelawyers.com

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