When purchasing auto insurance, often time insurance agents tell their customers that they have “Full Coverage” on their policy. Most people assume that “Full Coverage” means they have everything they need to protect themselves in case they were in an auto accident, but is far from the truth. Full coverage is a confusing and deceiving insurance industry term that misleads customers into thinking they are protected.
What does “Full Coverage” actually mean?
When your insurance agent says you have full coverage, what they are saying is that you have what is legally required for all insurance policies in the state of Florida to carry. Naturally, your next question should be, “What does the state of Florida legally require that I purchase on my policy?” You would be surprised to find out that it’s not much at all compared to other states. Additionally, three of the most important insurance coverages to protect yourself in an auto accident, are not required by the state of Florida to be in auto policies. So, what coverages should you have and how do they affect you?
Must-Have Auto Coverages
There are three coverages from an auto accident stand-point that are the most important to have in the state of Florida that aren’t required: Bodily Injury Coverage (BI), Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Collision.
Bodily Injury Coverage (BI): Bodily Injury is coverage that you purchase to include on your policy for when you hit someone else and cause injuries. If the person you hit is injured, they can pursue a claim and get a settlement from your auto policy for their medical bills, pain and suffering in lieu of suing you directly. If you are partially/fully at fault for an accident and someone was injured, any claim made against you would be paid from this coverage. Additionally, if the person you hit did sue you for their injuries without taking a settlement from the insurance, your insurance company will hire insurance defense counsel to defend the policy on your behalf. Lastly, if someone hits you and you become injured because of that accident, if the person that hit you doesn’t have BI, you most likely will not be able to obtain a settlement from them. In the legal industry, these types of people are often called “judgment-proof” because they almost always do not have any assets to go after if you were to sue them personally. People that have something to protect will generally have the insurance policies in place to protect their assets.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM): Uninsured Motorist is coverage that you purchase on your policy to protect yourself in an accident. The coverage pays for bodily injuries to you, your family members, and certain other persons resulting from an automobile accident in which the other party was at fault. It applies when the at-fault party either has no BI insurance or the BI insurance was insufficient to adequately compensate you for your injuries. It also covers injuries resulting from an accident caused by a hit-and-run vehicle. Because bodily injury coverage is not required in Florida, having uninsurance motorist coverage protects you in case you get hit by someone who doesn’t have BI. It’s a way to ensure that you will be able to get a settlement for your injuries.
Collision: Collision covers damage to your car resulting from an accident whether you’re at-fault or not. It’s not a complicated coverage, but it’s very important to have. For example, let’s say your rear ended by someone, and it turns out they don’t have insurance. Well, now your only option is to go through your collision coverage on your policy to get your car fixed. But if you don’t have collision coverage, then your stuck with paying for all the repairs our of your own pocket. Another issue that can come up, is if you were found at-fault for an accident, then your only option is to go through your own collision. But again, if you don’t have the coverage, your stuck paying for the damage our of your pocket.
All three of these coverages are extremely important to have incase you find yourself in an accident. For more information on insurance coverages and your auto policy, call the Mantia Law Firm and we will review your policy for free and recommend what coverages you should add or remove.