Feb 14, 2024

Understanding Full Coverage Insurance in Florida: What You Need to Know

The term “full coverage” is probably the most misunderstood concept in auto insurance policies in Florida; this is likely due to insurance agents and insurers not properly informing customers what Florida requires as opposed to what all available coverages there are when obtaining auto insurance.

For over a decade, we have had many clients say that they should be fully compensated because they bought “full coverage”, and so it should not matter if they were involved in a hit-and-run, or the at-fault car did not have insurance at the time of crash. It hurts to tell our clients that what was sold to them as “full coverage” is simply the bare minimum auto insurance coverage required under Florida law. One can imagine how disheartening it must be to hear that the so-called “full coverage” does not provide insurance for damages to your car, rental expenses, tow charges, or even injury expenses since Florida law does not require any of those aspects to be purchased.

As a driver, you may not have a complete idea of what your insurance does and that is completely understandable because it’s not something you do for a living. You may know that auto insurance is required when you own a car, but not so much as to what the coverages you need for your set of circumstances – if you ask us, make sure to purchase all available coverages, especially Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage.

So what happens when you have a car accident and you think you have full coverage? Does that mean you will not have to pay anything no matter what? 

Getting insurance coverage following an accident can sometimes be difficult, even if you really do have full coverage. That is why the team at Nuñez Law works hard to help policyholders when an accident happens. If you are having difficulty understanding your insurance, we are more than glad to explain how they would come into play if/when you’re involved in a car wreck.

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What Are Florida’s Mandatory Insurance Requirements?

Florida is one of few states that has no-fault insurance laws. In Florida, your mandatory requirements include at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage (a/k/a No-Fault benefits) and $10,000 in Property Damage coverage. The no-fault laws state that, if you are involved in an accident, insurance coverage will be offered regardless of fault for at least $10,000 in medical expenses like having to go to the urgent care, as well as a percentage of any lost wages due to injury (so long as you can establish they are due to ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle). 

Those insurance benefits can make a big difference if you have suffered injury in a car accident. For example, you may have suffered whiplash and some damage to your vehicle, and you simply need coverage. Rather than taking your case to court, PIP coverage allows you to file an insurance claim and get the funds you need.

What Full Coverage Includes 

However, Florida residents can seek “full coverage” auto insurance; this insurance goes beyond the minimum requirements for liability insurance in the state. 

So what can you expect if you are in an accident and you have full coverage? Ideally, you would expect the insurance company(ies) involved to act fairly and in your best interest, but if such were the norm, it is safe to say people would not need to hire lawyers to help them with their injury claims. Below are some coverages to keep in mind that are very helpful if/when you’re crashed into.

Collision and Comprehensive Insurance Policies 

While PIP insurance can help a lot when you have injuries in an accident, you may want further protection. True “full coverage” typically includes Collision and Comprehensive coverage. Your comprehensive coverage means that if something happens to your vehicle, such as a tree falling on it or someone breaks into your car,, your insurance will pay to fix it. 

Likewise, Collision coverage can help you get your car fixed when your car hits something or gets hit. This is unlike the liability insurance that covers you if you cause injury to someone (which is not required in Florida). Liability insurance (commonly known as “Bodily Injury” coverage) covers another’s damages to the extent of policy limits that you purchase, hence it is best to obtain the highest policy limits your budget allows.

Bodily Injury Coverage 

This is a type of auto insurance coverage that Florida law does not mandate, yet many people that believe they have “full coverage” do not carry this type of insurance. This is important to have because this is what covers you if/when you cause someone else an injury resulting from a crash.

The more coverage you can afford, the better. Considering how expensive medical care is nowadays, someone injured can rack up tens of thousands of dollars in bills from one visit to the emergency room, and the person that caused the crash will be responsible for all of it.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage 

While PIP coverage should help you regardless of fault, you may find yourself in situations where you need more than what PIP covers but the other party does not have insurance. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage protects you from the heartaches of a hit-and-run crash, and also from someone who did not buy Bodily Injury coverage or did not have sufficient policy limits to cover all of your damages that he or she caused you from a car crash. 

If you are unable to get coverage for your injuries from the at-fault party because they lack the insurance coverage for it, your UM coverage can kick in. That can make a big difference when you are hurt and suffering while the at-fault party does not have the coverage needed to compensate you.

The Insurance Claim Process After a Crash

When you are injured in a Florida car accident, one of the first steps you need to take, besides getting medical care and notifying the police, is to contact your insurance company or so you would think! Actually, after calling 9-1-1 and getting medical care, you should contact a lawyer to make sure you are prepared to deal with an insurance claim. 

While your claim is under investigation, an insurance adjuster may ask for things that are not needed as part of a claims delay process, which is another reason why you want to call an experienced personal injury lawyer. Imagine going through the hassle of getting things that are not required under the law and then delaying the claim simply because the adjuster tells you he is waiting for that before completing your claim..

The insurance adjuster will be able to obtain any information he needs on his own to determine whether to approve or deny your case. The insurance adjuster’s claims information will be used to determine how much your settlement is worth; the insurance company will make a low-ball offer to see if you are in despair or simply unaware of the true value of your injury claim, and try to make it seem like a quick settlement is in your best interest when it is only the insurer that benefits from a super quick resolution leaving you unsure of the full extent of your injuries.

What Happens If My Insurance Claim Is Denied? 

Unfortunately, you may have properly completed all the needed steps of presenting your claim, only to find out that the insurance company decided to deny the claim. Similarly, they may have opened coverage, but made a super low settlement offer that has the same effect as a denial. That puts you in a difficult position where you may have to pay out of pocket for the financial support that an insurance company should have provided. 

When your insurance claim is denied or you receive an unfairly low offer, you do not have to accept the insurance company’s decision. Hopefully, you understand that the best route is to hire a lawyer immediately so that you can get help from the beginning on figuring out what your claim is worth. If the insurance company denies the claim or refuses to make a realistic offer to settle your claim when you have a lawyer, you are already in a position for litigation if/when you hire an experienced trial lawyer. 

When the insurance company acts poorly and lacks good faith in handling your claim when they could and should have resolved the claim within policy limits had the insurer been acting in the best interest of the policyholder, they are breaching their contract of insurance. When that happens, an experienced injury attorney can represent you all the way to the courtroom, prove that you were treated unfairly, and fight for the full compensation you deserve.

Contact an Attorney for Your Insurance Claim 

Before finding out if the insurer is going to act fairly, you should hire a lawyer with the know-how to determine the proper compensation. 

Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party and/or the insurance company can be tough, but the lawyers at Nuñez Law are prepared to help our clients maximize their settlements. This can all begin with your free consultation with our team. To learn more about our services, reach out by calling or filling out our online contact form.  Remember at AccidentLawFirm.com, Our 5-Star Reviews Are No Accident.