Florida Auto Insurance and the Myth of Full Coverage

Florida Auto Insurance and the Myth of Full Coverage

It can be one of the most painful moments when we meet new clients; that moment when we ask about their auto insurance. “I’ve got full coverage,” the client cheerfully announces, radiating confidence that they’re protected against any misfortune.

What Does Full Coverage Actually Mean?

Unfortunately, “full coverage” is a misnomer. While we don’t know where the term comes from, we know what it means - almost no protection at all. What people call full coverage is actually the absolute minimum amount of insurance required by Florida law. It consists of two things: $10,000 in personal injury protection (“no fault”) benefits to pay for things like medical bills or lost wages after a car wreck, along with $10,000 in “property damage liability,” which pays for damage to other people’s cars or property if you are at fault for a crash.

That’s it.

Anything outside those modest coverages will not be provided by your own insurance company. You are “going bare” for those risks, just hoping that other people or forms of insurance will be available to pay them.

Those risks are quite real. A two-car collision can produce more than $10,000 in property damage, but a collision with three or more cars is even more likely to exceed that amount. One trip to an emergency room can use up the entire $10,000 no fault benefit.

In fact, the helicopter ride to a trauma center for a seriously injured person will exceed $10,000 all by itself. That means no-fault benefits are effectively gone before the patient/client even goes through the emergency room’s front door.

The risks created by full coverage are just as great when you aren’t at fault for a crash. If someone with so-called full coverage hits you, the only thing you’ll get from their insurance company is the property damage liability coverage. That means there is up to $10,000 available to pay to fix or total your car - that is, as long as other vehicles or property aren’t damaged or destroyed. When there is other property damage, and $10,000 isn’t enough to pay all of it, then the damages get pro-rated. In other words, each party making a claim gets a percentage, rather than 100-percent, of their total losses.

No Coverage for Injuries or Wrongful Death

Perhaps the cruelest risk in this category is for personal injuries or death. If you’re hit by someone with full coverage, that means they have no coverage for injuries or death to another person. That leaves an injured or deceased person without a penny of insurance available from the legally responsible party.

That can be a very hard thing to tell someone who has six-figure medical bills through no fault of their own. It’s even harder to explain to the family of someone killed by another person’s negligent or reckless driving.

Additional Coverage is Worth It to Anyone Who Can Afford It

The bottom line is that anyone who can afford additional coverages such as uninsured motorist, collision, and comprehensive should buy it. Anyone who can afford higher limits on all their coverages should also buy it. Full coverage is anything but full, and “going bare” is not worth the risk on Florida’s busy roads.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Clearwater, contact a Board Certified attorney from Roman & Gaynor. We are here to help you get the most out of your insurance policy, so that you can get your life back on track.

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