If you own a private passenger automobile with four or more wheels that is registered and licensed in Florida, you must carry these two coverages:

  • Personal Injury protection (PIP) of $10,000.
  • Property damage liability coverage of $10,000 per incident.

In general, PIP and PD liability are all that’s required by law. But drivers who have been convicted of certain traffic violations or who suffer accidents and cannot pay for damages must also carry bodily injury insurance, in addition to PIP and property damage liability insurance. That’s where the Financial Responsibility Law and the dreaded SR-22 form come into play.

If you fail to carry PIP or liability coverage, or if your insurance company cancels your policy, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can suspend your driver’s license and vehicle registration. In order to get them reinstated you’ll have to a minimum fine of $150 and show proof of insurance.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal injury protection is a not-fault type of coverage that pays you and covered family members’ for certain accident-related medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident. Basic PIP covers these items, up to the dollar limits of your coverage:

  • 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses.
  • 60 percent of lost wages and replacement services, such as childcare, home or even yard cleaning.
  • $5,000 for death benefits.

For higher premiums, you can increase both the amounts of your coverage and the percentages of qualified expenses that are covered.

Florida insurers are required to offer PIP deductibles of $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,000 (they may offer more choices at their discretion), but you do not have to accept any deductible if you want what’s often called “first dollar” protection. Here is an example to show how PIP deductibles work:

You have $7,000 in covered expenses and a $2,000 deductible. PIP covers 80 percent of $7,000 or $5,600. You pay the first $2,000, PIP pays $3,600 and you pay the remaining $1,400 (20 percent of $7,000.

PIP covers you and relatives living in your home, passengers in your car who do not have their own PIP coverage and licensed drivers who drive your car with your permission. You and covered family members have PIP coverage in just about every accident situation inside Florida and in accidents elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada if you are injured in your car. Other people in your car aren’t covered outside of Florida.

Under a new state law, PIP will also cover your child (if he or she lives with you) for injuries suffered while riding on a school bus. This law only applies to policies issued on or after October 1, 1997.

OPTIONAL COVERAGES

Rental Cars

Your auto insurance most likely covers you against collision damage to a rental car you are driving. Thus, you should not need to pay the charges for “collision damage waivers” that rental companies offer to protect you from any such damages.

Florida insurers are required to inform you if your policy covers such damages and to include this information on your insurance identification card.

For High Risk Drivers – Florida Joint Underwriting Association

Like most other states, Florida insurance cooperate to provide auto insurance to people who can’t find normal coverage in what’s called the voluntary market. These rates are higher than those charged to standard or, preferred drivers. Insurance agents and any company licensed to sell auto insurance in Florida should be able to provide details for FJUA coverage.

More details on Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law can be obtained from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility, Depart. Of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Neil Kirkman Building, room A-208, 2990 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, FL. 32399-0626. Customer Service Telephone 850-992-9000.

CLAIMS:

You’ve doubtless heard all the boilerplate about filing a claim.

Report accidents to the police if you think there’s even a remote chance you’ll ever file a claim.

Get a copy of any police paperwork stemming from the accident.

Write down everything you can at the accident scene, including information about the other driver and his/her car, details of the accidents, plus names and phone numbers of witnesses. Call your insurer and find out what to do next.

You also may have heard that, if you even whisper the word “accident” your rates will go up. Not true. If the accident is not your fault and you are not convicted of any traffic or other violations related to the accident, your rate is not supposed to rise, and you are not supposed to get your insurance canceled either. If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated by any insurer following an accident, talk it over with your agent and /or call the Florida Consumer Helpline to discuss your options 800-342-2762.

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