Automobile Insurance – Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Throughout my 24 years of practicing law, I have had hundreds of clients tell me they are “fully insured” for their auto accidents. I have never understood this phrase – clearly, it means different things to different people. Many of these clients didn’t even have bodily injury liability coverage to protect themselves from claims by persons they injure while driving. It might surprise you to know that Florida does not even require that its drivers carry bodily injury liability coverage. The minimum insurance required by law is PIP (Personal Injury Protection to go towards your own medical bills if you are injured) and Property Damage coverage, which pays for damage you cause to someone else’s car or property. So what does that mean? It means that the law only requires a driver to have insurance to cover some of his own medical bills, as well as any damage he causes to another person’s property. Amazingly, the law does not require a driver to have insurance to cover injuries he causes to another person. Florida is high on the list of states with drivers who have minimal coverage or, even worse, no insurance at all. Every time you drive you are at risk of being injured by someone else’s negligence – someone who may have minimal or no insurance.  What can you do to protect yourself? Fortunately, there is underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. If you are injured in an auto accident and the at-fault party is underinsured or uninsured, you can look to your own insurance company to pay for your injuries if you have this type of coverage. For example, if an at-fault driver has only $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, but the claim for your injuries is worth $300,000, you can make a claim against your insurance company for the difference of $200,000.  If your claim is worth $300,000 and the at-fault driver has no insurance, you can make a claim against your insurance company for the entire $300,000. I have had clients whose family members have died or suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of uninsured motorists’ negligence, leaving them with no avenue to recover for their losses. Given the number of uninsured drivers on Florida’s roads, I always recommend to my clients that they protect themselves and their families by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. This is the best possible way to avoid the tragedy of being injured by a driver who has minimal or no insurance coverage.

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