If you’ve just relocated to the Sarasota/Bradenton area, welcome! We’re glad to have you here. While you’re unpacking and checking out the beaches, remember that you’ll need to purchase car insurance and tag your car in your new state—and Florida car insurance can be a little confusing. Here are some things to be mindful of:
Florida is currently a no-fault state, though lawmakers are attempting to change this.
What this means for you: Your car insurance policy will need to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If you’re injured in an accident, no matter whose fault it was, the first $10,000 of medical coverage will come from your own car insurance policy.
In addition to PIP, to legally register your vehicle, you must also carry $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PD).
Do I need Bodily Injury Liability?
Even though you don’t have to carry Bodily Injury Liability (BI) to register your car, the Florida Financial Responsibility law “requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage.” If you are at fault in an accident, BI will help to pay for the victims’ injuries, up to the policy limit. Florida’s minimum BI limit is $10,000 per person/$20,000 per accident.
What this means for you: If you are at fault in an accident and you injure someone, you must be carrying at least $10,000 per person BI, in addition to PIP and PD coverage, at the time of the accident. If you don’t have Bodily Injury coverage, you’ll be forced to buy it, and you may have to carry an SR-22 (a certificate of financial responsibility) for three years.
Florida’s minimum limits are low, considering how much you could be liable for in an accident with serious injuries, or if more than one other vehicle is involved. When the liability limits are reached, you and your assets may be at risk if the injured party chooses to sue for the remainder of the damages. In general, the insurance industry recommends coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident for BI, and at least $50,000 for Property Damage Liability.
What about Uninsured Motorist coverage?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) covers your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after your $10,000 PIP coverage is used up. Even then, it only pays after the other driver has been declared at fault in the accident and it has been determined they are uninsured or underinsured. UM doesn’t pay to have your car fixed. The catch: you can’t buy UM unless you buy BI coverage, and only up to the same policy limits.
What this means for you: You may want to consider UM coverage since unfortunately, many people in Florida are not adequately insured. (In fact, Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists in the country—26.7 percent—according to the latest data available from the Insurance Research Council.)
Though some people look for the bare minimum of coverage they must carry to drive legally, that’s not usually a good idea. The purpose of car insurance is to protect you, your assets, and your liability. At Lakewood Financial, we represent more than 40 car insurance companies, and we’ll be happy to help you look at your personal situation and find the best coverage at the best rate. Give us a call at 941-747-4600 or contact us. We’d love to help you—and welcome to the neighborhood!
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