Auto and motorcycle insurance in Florida

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 what coverage in the event of an accident?

What compulsory insurance covers (legal minimum) and what additional policies it is advisable to take out in Florida to be fully compensated in the event of a traffic accident.

(disclaimer: this article is published in order to facilitate the general understanding of the law in Florida: for more specific and/or complete information it is necessary to have recourse to an individual consultation)

Florida is a very special state for car insurance. Indeed, the “Sunshine State” is one of the few states in America with a system based on the system of “no-fault liability” for car insurance, like the French system. This no-fault liability system allows victims to be compensated regardless of the fault of the driver, and thus to obtain (in theory), as in France, more easily compensation for the damage that was caused during the accident of the traffic. If you have a car accident, your own car insurance covers your claims for lost wages and medical expenses, up to $10,000 (deductibles apply). So even if someone else caused the accident, your own insurance pays first.

Another aspect makes auto insurance in Florida unique: it is one of the only states in the United States in which compulsory auto insurance consists of no-fault bodily injury and property damage coverage limited to $ 10,000 only for any owner. of vehicle. The scope of compulsory insurance is therefore very limited, even minimal, and in this respect it diverges this time from the French system. If you find this surprising or bizarre, you are not alone. $10,000 bodily injury coverage, and $10,000 property damage coverage is all it takes to legally drive a car in Florida (with your driver’s license).

Additionally, drivers in Florida are not required to have purchased coverage:

– ‘bodily injury coverage’, to cover compensation claims that may be brought against you if you are responsible for the accident;

– ‘medical expenses’ (in English ‘medical payments coverage’ or ‘Med Pay’), coverage which provides for the reimbursement of your medical bills exceeding the threshold of $ 10,000;

– ‘uninsured or underinsured driver’ (in English ‘Uninsured Motorist’ or ‘Underinsured Motorist’ or ‘UM’), which covers you in the event that the driver who caused the accident does not – or not enough – insurance.

One could debate the desirability or usefulness of Florida’s no-fault liability/PIP (Personal Injury Protection) auto insurance scheme, given that it was enacted in 1971, when medical bills and car repair costs were much lower; the minimum guarantees have never been revised and therefore have never been increased since. Also, the system is arguably unconstitutional now that the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to be insured. But that’s not our topic.


So to summarize, since there is no compulsory ‘civil liability’ policy in Florida, unlike what is required in France, if you are unfortunately the victim of a car accident, caused by another driver , and you have significant medical expenses, lost wages, and/or pretium doloris (i.e. pain and suffering), it is hoped that the other driver is covered for bodily injury and/or that you have taken out UM cover.

On the other hand, in a state like Florida where millions of people drive without a license and/or insurance, or with only the minimum required insurance, or with very little bodily injury coverage, is better to have UM coverage. Again, UM coverage protects you when the driver at fault has no insurance or not enough insurance to compensate you. At the same time, you must also have taken out a ‘third party bodily injury’ policy sufficient to protect your assets in the event that you cause an accident. And keep in mind that if your auto insurance policy doesn’t include third-party bodily injury coverage along with UM coverage, you don’t have “full coverage.”

If the driver at fault has contracted the cover for bodily injury caused to others and/or if you have UM cover, you can take action against the driver at fault and/or against your UM insurer, and therefore be compensated under the four main heads of damages (to sclaim for bodily injury, property damage, loss of wages and pretium doloris) by means of a claim based on the argument of ‘negligent driving’ (i.e. the negligent use of the vehicle by the driver , in English ‘negligence’).

First, you can claim reimbursement for your medical expenses, including medical expenses that resulted from the accident, such as a hospital visit, rehabilitation and/or surgery. You can also be compensated for future medical expenses if the injury you suffered in the accident has not healed and requires further and additional long-term care.

Secondly, you can be compensated for your loss of income generated by the accident if you provide proof that you were unable to work, and justify the amount of wages you lost.

Third, you can claim compensation for pain and suffering (pretium doloris) – including mental anguish – resulting from the accident, if you provide evidence that the injury resulting from the accident is permed.

Finally, you can obtain reimbursement for the repair of your own vehicle, or the market value of your vehicle if the vehicle is considered wreckage.

Also remember that if the action is brought against you, or if you make a claim against another driver, the insurance will only pay up to the amount corresponding to the maximum contracted under each of the different policies contracted in the car insurance contract. For example, if your contract has a limit of $50,000 for bodily injury coverage, you are declared responsible for the accident, and the person you injured suffers damage greater than $50,000, you will be personally liable. damages exceeding this sum of $50,000.

Car insurance is something most of us pay for, hoping we never have to use! But, if you take out this insurance, be careful: make sure you have sufficient cover to protect yourself and your family, hoping that the ‘faulty’ driver has done the same!