Automobile Insurance in Florida
You may have heard that Florida is a “no fault” state, but many people do not have a good understanding of what this term means. In fact, Florida is very much a fault state, meaning that the person responsible for an accident can be civilly liable for injuries and damages they caused. “No fault,” or personal injury protection (“PIP”), refers to a particular insurance coverage that all drivers in Florida are required to carry. It means that, if you are injured in an accident, even if it is your fault, this coverage may pay up to $10,000.00 towards you medical bills, usually minus a deductible of $1,000.00 or $2,000.00.
On January 1, 2013, Florida enacted changes in the PIP statute that required injured motorists to seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident and required a medical professional to certify that the patient’s injury required immediate medical attention. According to the state legislature these reforms accomplished their intended purpose of reducing the amount paid on PIP claims by 17.5% and reducing insurance premiums by 15%. However, despite these apparently positive changes, in an attempt to address PIP fraud, a new bill has been introduced in the Florida House that would do away with PIP coverage altogether and would instead require all drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury coverage. This is already the law in number of other states.
“Bodily injury” refers to the insurance coverage that covers the injuries caused by an at-fault driver (but does not cover the at-fault driver’s injuries). Many people are surprised to learn that Florida does not require that a driver carry any bodily injury coverage at all. Unfortunately, this means that many of the worst drivers in our state do not have any insurance to cover your injuries if they cause an accident you are involved in. This is why “uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM)” coverage is so important. This is the coverage you pay for that covers your injuries and damages in the event that the at-fault driver who hit you does not have any, or does not have enough, insurance.
Many people automatically reject UM/UIM when applying for auto insurance, thinking they are going to save a few dollars a month. They just assume that some insurance somewhere will cover their injuries if they are involved in an accident that is not their fault. We, and probably all attorneys who do what we do, have seen numerous cases where the other driver was at fault, our client had serious injuries, maybe even had a surgery, and because they rejected UM/UIM, there was no insurance coverage for their injuries and damages. There is little recourse for these people, and these situations are often hopeless and heartbreaking. Our best advice is: don’t reject UM/UIM coverage! The extra protection UM/UIM coverage affords is well worth a few extra dollars a month.