Florida is one of only three states that does not require owners of motor vehicles registered in the state to maintain bodily injury (BI) insurance. Bodily injury insurance covers losses for economic (e.g., lost wages and medical bills) and non-economic damages, also known as human damages, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, and the loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.
While BI coverage is not mandatory, it is available from every insurance carrier that sells motor vehicle insurance in the state. The first thing to keep in mind when securing BI insurance is the coverage limit under the policy. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. The minimum BI coverage limit in Florida is $10,000; the sky is the limit for how much coverage can be purchased. Individuals and companies with large assets subject to judgments are well-advised to maintain high coverage limits.
Whether the coverage limits are large or small, another advantage of maintaining BI insurance is that the insurance carrier will handle the legal aspects of the case brought against the insured, even to the extent of paying a defense attorney. Understand, however, that some policies allow carriers to decide whether or not to pay the coverage limits, and if the coverage is not enough to satisfy the damages claimed, the insured may lose the defense attorney upon the carrier’s tender of the policy limit, leaving the insured to fend for himself.
Other points to keep in mind:
- Carriers charge premiums based on risk. Various factors are considered in determining premium rates. Driving records, coverage limits, and who will be driving the vehicle are a few of the main considerations. BI insurance will cover losses caused by permissive users. However, if a permissive user also lives with the insured and this fact is not disclosed in the insurance application or within a reasonable period of time (often defined by the insurance policy) after the person begins to reside with the insured, the carrier can deny coverage for the reason that the risk to the carrier was greater than the carrier knew and for which its premium was determined. Likewise, the failure to disclose the business use of a personal vehicle — Uber, for example — may result in the loss of coverage.
- While BI is not mandatory, persons causing personal injuries in a crash may have their driving privileges suspended for not maintaining the coverage. See s. 324.051(2), Florida Statutes.
- Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance is available with the purchase of every BI policy. It costs extra. The insurance covers the insured and various others when the at-fault party does not have BI (UM) or the BI limits are not enough to pay for all of the damages (UIM), making it a form of 1st party BI insurance. UM/UIM coverage can be stacked or non-stacked. See generally, Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. // Uninsured Motorist (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance — Don’t Leave Home Without It.
- PIP and property damage liability insurance are mandatory. PIP covers a limited amount of medical bills and lost wages for the insured and others covered under the policy. It does not pay for human damages like BI coverage. Property damage liability does not pay for the repair or replacement of the insured’s vehicle.
The list of considerations mentioned in this blog is not comprehensive. Feel free to contact our office to discuss these matters further.
Contact us at 305-758-4900 or by email to learn your legal rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
While prompt resolution of your legal matter is our goal, our approach is fundamentally different. Our clients are “people” and not “cases” or “files.” We take the time to build a relationship with our clients, realizing that only through meaningful interaction can we best serve their needs. In this manner, we have been able to best help those requiring legal representation.
DISCLAIMER: This information provided by Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is for informational purposes only and is intended to be used as a non-legal guide prior to consultation with an attorney familiar with your specific legal situation. It should not be considered legal advice or counseling. No such legal advice or counseling is either expressly or impliedly intended. This information is not a substitute for the advice or counsel of an attorney. If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of an attorney.