Our clients often tell us that they have “full coverage” on their vehicles. But the term “full coverage” means different things to different people. To many people, “full coverage” is the coverage that is required by Florida law. To others, full coverage means the coverage required by law plus optional coverages, such as collision, comprehensive, medical payments, bodily injury liability, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
To register a vehicle in Florida, the owner must show that the vehicle is covered by an insurance policy providing $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 property damage liability (PD) coverage. Florida PIP coverage will pay for a portion of certain medical expenses and lost wages up to the policy limits. PD will cover damage to another person’s vehicle or other property caused by the driver of the insured vehicle. PD only applies if the driver of the insured vehicle is at fault for the accident.
The required insurance is not enough for most drivers. Many damages and liabilities are not covered by the required insurance, including:
- Liability of bodily injuries that you cause to others
- Your pain and suffering
- Medical expenses or lost wages beyond your PIP coverage
- Damage to your car caused by an accident in which you are at fault, and
- Damage to your car caused a natural occurrence (falling tree, hail, etc.), vandalism or a hit-and-run driver.
As a result, if you only have the required insurance, you may not have the coverage that you need to protect yourself if you are involved in an accident.
The answer to this question will vary depending upon your needs and circumstances. For most people, bodily injury liability limits of $100,000/$300,000 is reasonable. A $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury liability policy will pay for up $100,000 in damages to one person and up to $300,000 for all persons injured in an accident that you cause. If you have significant assets to protect, you may want to purchase higher limits. It is also a good idea to purchase higher limits of PD. Many new vehicles cost more than $50,000, so having at least $50,000 in PD coverage is advisable.
Perhaps the most important coverage that you should purchase is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM). This coverage provides you, family members who live with you, and your passengers with compensation for injuries caused by another driver who has no liability insurance or inadequate liability insurance. As Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage, there is no source of recovery for bodily injuries if the at-fault driver has only the required coverage, unless you have UM coverage. Your insurance company must offer you UM coverage with the same limits as the bodily injury liability coverage on your policy. You should purchase UM limits that are equal to your BI limits. Although you can sign a waiver to purchase less UM coverage or no UM coverage, this is not the place to save a little money.
You will also be given a choice “stacked” or “non-stacked” UM coverage. Stacked coverage allows you to “stack” the limits of UM on each vehicle for which you have paid a premium for stacked UM coverage. For example, if you have two cars with stacked UM coverage of $100,000/$300,000 on each, you will combine the UM coverage on each vehicle to get $200,000/$600,000. Stacked coverage also provides you with broader coverage, covering you in other vehicles, including motorcycles. In contrast, if you opt for non-stacked coverage, you will not be able to stack your limits, and your coverage will be narrowed by exclusions that do not apply to stacked coverage. We recommend that you purchase stacked UM coverage.
If you have questions about your motor vehicle insurance, contact an attorney at Rue & Ziffra. We will be happy to go over your policy with you and let you know if we would recommend any changes. There is no fee for this service.