What does “Full Coverage” mean? – How Insurance Companies Mislead their Customers
by: Peggy Bruner
The Main Points:
- “Fully Covered” typically means the policyholder has the bare minimum coverage legally required by Florida law.
- Florida does not require drivers to carry insurance to cover another party’s injuries, regardless of who causes the accident.
- If another driver causes an accident resulting in more than $10,000 in property damage to your vehicle, you may have to pay the remaining damages out of pocket.
- One trip to the Emergency Room can cost upwards of $10,000, depending on the seriousness of your injuries and the length of the stay.
- If you get in a car crash in Florida, there is 1 in 4 chance, the other driver will not be insured.
Maybe you’ve just been hit by another driver who told you “don’t worry, I’m fully covered.” Maybe you just purchased car insurance, and your sales associate told you, you’ve got everything you need, you’re “fully covered,” but what does that actually mean?
“Full coverage” does not mean what you think it means. “Fully covered” often means the policyholder was sold the bare minimum coverage to be a legally insured driver in Florida: $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage (for your own injuries, regardless of who causes the accident) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) (for damage done by you to the other driver’s vehicle, if you are found at fault).
PIP covers up to $10,000 of your immediate, emergency medical expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. PIP only covers medical treatment that begins within the first fourteen days after a car crash. PIP covers up to 80% of your medical bills and up to 60% of your lost wages. In Florida, under most circumstances, an injured person must first utilize their own PIP coverage before any other type of insurance coverage can be used. To those of us in good health, $10,000 in medical bills seems astronomical. However, if you’re injured in a car crash, depending on the severity of your injuries, length of stay, and services rendered, one trip to the emergency room can (and often does) run well over $10,000.
“Fully covered” does not mean that you have coverage available for other parties’ injuries if you are involved in an accident. Bodily Injury Liability covers the injuries of another party if you cause an accident. No one in Florida is legally required to carry this type of coverage, although if you cause an accident and injure someone, you can be sued personally. Having adequate Bodily Injury Liability coverage can prevent you from being personally sued and financially ruined.
In Florida, roughly 27% of drivers carry little to no insurance. In fact, Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the country. Because Bodily Injury Liability is not required, it is crucial to carry Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Coverage. This type of coverage protects you if you sustain injuries in a car crash caused by another driver who does not carry any insurance or enough insurance to cover your medical bills. If you’re unsure whether you carry this type of coverage right now, call your insurance provider and make sure you do.
As a personal injury attorney, I have seen countless clients who do not carry Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Coverage. They are not sure whether they carry this type of coverage or what it means for their case. In Florida, insurance policyholders must reject Uninsured Motorist Coverage in writing. That means that many of the policyholders who reject this type of coverage do not fully understand what it is and what they stand to lose if they do not have this valuable coverage. When you reject this type of coverage, and you become injured in a car crash with an uninsured driver, you will only have $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to cover your medical expenses.
Under Florida Statute 627.72, insurance companies must have policyholders reject Uninsured Motorist Coverage in writing, and the rejection form must fully advise the policyholder in 12-point bold type: “You are electing not to purchase certain valuable coverage which protects you and your family or you are purchasing uninsured motorist limits less than your bodily injury liability limits when you sign this form. Please read carefully.”
However, insurance companies are not required to provide policyholders with this rejection form when a policy is renewed or replaced. Your insurance provider may require you to submit a request for Uninsured Motorist Coverage in writing. If you’re not sure what types of auto insurance coverage you have today, request the information from your carrier. It’s not exciting or fun to look through your policy, but if you’ve been involved in a car crash, you know that understanding this information and having the right amount of coverage can protect you and your loved ones.
In 2018, there were more than 400,000 car crashes throughout Florida and more than 3,000 deaths resulting from car crashes. If you are a Northwest Florida local driver, you are likely driving on two of America’s most dangerous roads: I-10 (55 deaths per 100 miles) and US Highway 98 (20 deaths per 100 miles). Sadly, Florida ranks as the second-highest state in the country for distracted driving, causing almost 50,000 crashes in 2016 – more than five crashes every hour. If you are hit by another driver in the state of Florida, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the driver is not insured.
There are many other types of supplemental insurance that are not commonly included in policies sold under the guise of “full coverage.” Those include roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, and new car replacement programs. To protect yourself, you should speak with your insurance agent today and ensure that you have collision, bodily injury, and uninsured motorist coverage.
How can a personal injury lawyer help you after you’ve suffered injuries from a car crash caused by an uninsured driver?
- Provide you with the information you need – Our attorneys will review and investigate all possible insurance policies available, parties involved, and the factual circumstances to better understand how your claim will proceed. We work to educate our clients on the legal system through their cases and assess their insurance policies.
- Negotiation – Although you are your insurance company’s customer, your insurance adjuster is not on your team. The best advantage to have over an insurance adjuster, to secure a fair and just settlement, is to have an attorney who protects your best interests. Our attorneys will ensure you get the full compensation you need for your injuries, property damages, and other financial losses.
- Put together a claim – Our attorneys know the rules you must obey during the evidence-gathering phase of a personal injury claim. We maximize the value of our clients’ claims by knowing what evidence matters most to insurance companies and what does not. We know the rules for preserving evidence and the deadlines involved in settling a case.
- Represent in Court – While we are largely successful in negotiating fair and just settlements pre-suit for our clients, sometimes insurance adjusters do not fairly evaluate claims. Whenever necessary, our attorneys will fight for your best interests before a jury to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, the experienced attorneys at the The Bruner Law Firm can help. We have helped thousands across the Panhandle navigate personal injury claims. If you would like assistance reviewing your insurance policy and coverage, send us an email or give us a call at (850) 243-2222 – we’d be happy to help make sure you have the coverage you need.