Set forth below are the types of coverage that are mandatory in Florida
Florida law provides that every owner or registrant of a motor vehicle required to be registered or licensed in Florida has to maintain certain minimum security with respect to the motor vehicle. For owners of non-commercial four wheeled motor vehicles, other than mobile homes, this means that you must have what is called Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance. Note that PIP insurance is not required for motorcycles. PIP insurance is the most basic insurance that any Florida motor vehicle owner carries. It provides up to $10,000 in benefits directly to the owner of the policy and other enumerated persons, such as family members residing in the same household as the owner. PIP insurance provides coverage to persons in the following circumstances:
- Accidental bodily injury sustained in Florida by the owner while occupying any motor vehicle (not just the motor vehicle named in the policy), or while not an occupant of a self-propelled vehicle if the injury is caused by physical contact with a motor vehicle.
- Accidental bodily injury sustained outside Florida, but within the United States of America or its territories or possessions or Canada, by the owner while occupying the owner’s motor vehicle.
- Accidental bodily injury sustained by a relative of the owner residing in the same household, under the same circumstances described above, if the relative at the time of the accident is domiciled in the owner’s household and is not the owner of a motor vehicle with respect to which PIP insurance is required.
- Accidental bodily injury sustained in Florida by any other person while occupying the owner’s motor vehicle or, if a resident of Florida, while not an occupant of a self-propelled vehicle if the injury is caused by physical contact with such motor vehicle, if the injured person is not already entitled to PIP benefits as a motor vehicle owner or through another motor vehicle’s policy.
The policy may, but is not required to, exclude benefits (i) for the named insured or relatives residing in the same household if the accident occurs in another of the insured’s motor vehicles not covered under the policy; (ii) for injuries sustained by a person operating the motor vehicle without the consent of the insured; (ii) to any person who intended their own injuries; and (iv) to any person injured while committing a felony.
After payment of any deductible you agreed to in purchasing your policy, PIP insurance provides benefits of 80% of any reasonably necessary medical expenses arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the motor vehicle. Unless you have expressly waived coverage for lost wages, your PIP insurance will also pay 60% of any loss of gross income and loss of earning capacity as a result of inability to work caused by the accident, up to a total limit of $10,000 per person. PIP coverage also provides $5,000 in death benefits.
Under Florida’s “No-Fault” law, PIP coverage provides a few other substantial benefits. Every owner, registrant, operator or passenger of a non-commercial motor vehicle which has PIP coverage is exempted from tort liability to others who are injured in an accident involving the motor vehicle, regardless of fault, and up to the limits of the PIP coverage. Consequently, if you are sued by a person you have injured in an automobile accident, the fact that you have PIP coverage exempts you from liability for damages that have already been paid to the plaintiff through their own PIP coverage. Perhaps even more important, the injured person must be able to prove that he or she has suffered a permanent injury (as defined by the statute) in order to be able to recover “non-economic” damages from you, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.
A non-Florida resident is exempt from the PIP requirement if his or her vehicle is not required to be registered or licensed in Florida, but the PIP requirement is triggered if the motor vehicle has been physically present in Florida for more than 90 of the preceding 365 days, regardless of whether the motor vehicle has actually been operated. In other words, a seasonal Florida resident cannot leave their vehicle in Florida without potentially triggering the PIP requirement.
Property Damage Insurance
In addition to PIP coverage, every owner of operator of a motor vehicle required to be registered in Florida must maintain the ability to pay up to $10,000 in property damages for accidents in which they are at fault, a requirement that is typically met through property damage insurance. The policy may alternatively provide coverage in the amount of at least $30,000 for combined property damage liability and bodily injury liability for any one crash arising out of the use of the motor vehicle.
Heightened insurance requirements for persons with prior DUIs
There are additional insurance requirements which may apply to motor vehicle owners or operators who have previously been convicted of driving under the influence. The additional requirements apply to persons who have been found guilty of or entered a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) to a charge of driving under the influence in violation of Fla. Stat. § 324.023 after October 1, 2007. For such persons, the necessary property damage insurance is increased to $50,000, and there is an additional requirement that the person maintain liability insurance (a type of insurance that is discussed in detail later in this outline). The amount of the necessary liability insurance is $100,000 because of bodily injury to, or death of, one person in any one crash and, subject to such limits for one person, in the amount of $300,000 because of bodily injury to, or death of, two or more persons in any one crash. The heightened requirements are discontinued if the person does not have had another conviction of a DUI or felony traffic offense for three years following the initial reinstatement of driving privileges.
Penalties for not maintaining PIP and Property Damage Insurance
Persons who are required to maintain PIP and property damage insurance and fail to do so are subject to having their registrations and Florida driver’s licenses suspended