Comprehensive, Collision and Gap coverage
Collision insurance is property damage insurance that compensates you for damage to your own vehicle if you are in an accident and you are either at fault, or the other driver is at fault but has no property insurance to compensate you for the damages to your vehicle. Comprehensive coverage provides an added layer of protection by insuring you vehicle against damage not caused by a collision, such as by severe weather damage, vandalism, etc. Comprehensive and collision insurance are often bundled together by insurance companies.
Gap insurance is a form of automobile property insurance that can be very useful if your automobile is totaled in an accident. Due to the rapid depreciation in an automobile’s value over time, owners often find that their totaled vehicles are valued by property insurance adjusters at substantially less than the amount that is still owed on the vehicle. Gap insurance pays the difference between the amount the property insurance adjuster is willing to pay and the amount that you owe, allowing you to pay off the balance owed on your vehicle.
If your automobile has substantial value, it is obviously important to have Comprehensive and Collision insurance. If you are leasing your automobile, you may be required to carry comprehensive, collision and gap coverage at all times.
Bodily Liability Insurance
Whether you need bodily liability (“BI”) insurance, or how much of it, depends on several factors. If you are at fault in an automobile accident and have significant personal savings or assets other than your homestead protected Florida personal residence or other assets protected under Florida law from seizure by creditors, then you run a serious risk of being sued and having these non-exempt savings and assets seized to satisfy any resulting judgment. Even if you do not have significant non-exempt assets, your wages could be garnished to satisfy a judgment against you. One important way to protect your income and your assets is to purchase BI insurance. The more coverage that you carry, the more likely it is that a plaintiff will be willing to look only to the coverage in settling the case. Insurers typically offer liability coverage in certain standard increments, such as $10,000, $50,000, $100,000 or $250,000. The amount you purchase should be tailored to your personal circumstances.
Underinsured/uninsured motorist (“UIM”) insurance is the least common basic car insurance but often the most important. This is the coverage that protects you and your loved ones in case you are struck by a negligent driver who either does not own BI insurance or has insufficient insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries. It has become increasing common in Florida for drivers to have little or no BI insurance, so if you are the victim of another driver’s negligence you may well find that the other driver has no insurance to compensate you for your injuries. If you can afford UIM insurance, buy it! It will compensate you for your injuries in the same manner as the at-fault driver’s insurance would have if it had been sufficient. Please bear in mind, however, that even though this is your own insurance sold to you by your friendly insurance agent, your insurance company may fight you tooth and nail over the payment of UIM benefits, and they basically will step into the shoes of this at-fault driver in doing so. Your own insurer may try to blame you for the accident in order to avoid paying out on the UIM policy. In most cases, you will need legal representation in resolving a UIM claim.
Your insurance carrier is required by law to offer you UIM insurance in the same amount as any BI insurance you purchase. Your insurance agent is also required by law to have you sign a waiver of coverage if you choose not to purchase the coverage. Do not sign the waiver unless you are sure you do not want the insurance. If you have more than one insured motor vehicle, you will also be offered the opportunity to “stack” your UIM coverage so that the UIM limits on each motor vehicle are added together to arrive at a combined UIM coverage limit. Purchase as much UIM coverage as you can afford and reasonably think that you need. If you purchase liability insurance and not UIM insurance, you are protecting others but not yourself and your loved ones.
Medical Payments insurance
Medical payments insurance is a sort of supplemental insurance to your basic PIP coverage that provides a source of funds to pay the 20% of medical bills not covered by PIP and to pay medical bills once the $10,000 in PIP benefits are exhausted. This sort of insurance may not be crucial for you if you already have health insurance for you and your family. If you do not have health insurance, medical payments insurance can defray the costs of medical care not covered by PIP. It can also be very helpful in conjunction with PIP, because by carrying medical payments insurance you will be able to allocate more of your PIP coverage to compensate you for any lost wages. One of the disadvantages of medical payments insurance, as compared to PIP, is that if you make a subsequent recovery against an at fault driver, your insurance company can demand repayment of the medical payments benefits out of the recovery.