Understanding Auto Insurance Rules and Options
Shopping for auto insurance? Trying to figure out what your policy does and does not cover? Good luck! Confusing clauses and unfamiliar terms can make it impossible for an ordinary person to understand car insurance terms. It’s like the documents are written in another language.
In a sense, they are. Insurance companies write out everything in anticipation of lawsuits. They work with many terms that were established in legal claims decades or even centuries ago. They don’t want to change the terms to something more common for fear of losing their legal meaning. In addition, they also work with specialized terms established by the industry and incorporated into regulations and statutes. Between the industry jargon and the archaic legal language, car insurance documents almost require a specialized translator.
As Pensacola accident lawyers, we work with car insurance terms on a regular basis every time there’s an accident. We hope that by helping you understand the basics, you will find it easier to choose the right auto insurance options for your family. However, your insurance agent is the expert on this topic, so be sure to talk with your agent to make sure you have adequate coverage to protect yourself.
Types of Car Insurance Coverage
To understand rules and recommendations for automobile insurance, it is first helpful to know the basic types of coverage Pensacola accident lawyers encounter.
Bodily Injury Liability
This type of coverage is the most important. Bodily injury liability coverage provides funds to cover payments for injury or death caused to someone else by your car when you or someone you authorize is driving. In some situations, harm caused by unauthorized drivers (such as car thieves) could also be covered.
Property Damage Liability
Coverage for property damage liability reimburses others when your car or truck causes damage to the property of others. This includes damage to other vehicles and damage to features such as buildings and fences.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Sometimes referred to as Medical Payments coverage, Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage provides payments for injuries to you as the insured driver and your passengers in an accident, regardless of fault. This coverage is intended to speed up the processing of payments by avoiding the need to establish liability through the court system.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When an accident is caused by a motorist without insurance or when the at-fault driver is unknown (hit and run), uninsured motorist coverage can reimburse you for your losses. Under-insured motorist coverage can help cover your costs when the driver at fault in an accident doesn’t carry enough coverage to pay for all losses. While Pensacola accident lawyers can often find ways to help you recover for losses in these situations, the protection provided by this type of coverage is highly recommended.
Collision coverage pays for damage done to your vehicle in an accident when you are at fault, such as if you hit a pole. This type of coverage can also cover damage arguably resulting from outside conditions, such as when your vehicle is damaged by hitting a pothole.
When something other than a collision damages your vehicle, comprehensive coverage can pay for your losses. For instance, if a tree falls on your car or vandals puncture your tires, comprehensive coverage pays to fix the damage.
Damage to windshields is one of the most common types of vehicle damage, so many policies offer glass coverage with no deductible.
One general way to think of the differences in coverage is that the types with the term “liability” in the name cover losses to others (when you are considered liable) while other types cover losses to you personally.
What Types of Coverage are Required?
Many states, including Georgia, require drivers to carry a certain amount of bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage and property damage liability (PDL) coverage. Florida requires PDL coverage, but instead of BIL coverage for others, the state mandates carrying personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for yourself and your passengers.
Pensacola accident lawyers are painfully aware that the coverage amounts mandated in Florida are lower than average. You are required to carry only $10,000 in coverage for PIP and $10,000 for PDL. Georgia requires a minimum of $25,000 in PDL coverage and coverage of BIL in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident. Even these higher amounts may not be nearly enough to protect your family from liability, however.
What Auto Insurance Coverage Do You Need?
Determining the insurance coverage you are required to have is one thing, but figuring out what you should have is another matter entirely. Before you can make that decision, you need to consider a number of factors such as:
- How much is your car worth? Look not only at book value but also retail value. You might want to invest in collision and comprehensive insurance to cover the cost of repairing or replacing damage
- How much do you owe on the vehicle? If you owe more than the market value, you may want to purchase gap insurance to cover the difference
- Who should be listed on your policy? If a family member or friend drives your car regularly, they should be listed as a driver on the policy.
- Are you using your car for commercial purposes? If you get paid to deliver items or provide rides to others, your personal car insurance may not provide coverage if you’re in an accident. You may need to purchase supplemental coverage or a commercial policy.
- The number of accidents caused by uninsured drivers in your area. You may want to add coverage for uninsured motorists.
- How does the value of your assets compare to your insurance coverage? If you cause an accident with injuries and your insurance doesn’t cover the full amount, the other people involved could go after your house and other assets.
- Do you have any inexperienced drivers on your policy? Inexperienced drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents.
You may also want to add a layer of extra liability protection by purchasing an umbrella policy that provides additional coverage for both homeowners and auto insurance. While the cost of premiums and deductibles also factors into your decision, the primary focus should be on determining the protection you need to keep from losing everything in an accident with catastrophic injuries.
Pensacola Accident Lawyers Can Help if You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident
Even though Florida drivers carry PIP coverage that is supposed to pay for their injuries in a car accident, that does not mean that you won’t need help from Pensacola accident lawyers after a collision. In many cases, the physical and emotional damage will exceed coverage limits, and you may need to negotiate or file a lawsuit to cover all your losses. Or your insurer may not handle the claim properly.
There are many situations where experienced accident attorneys can assist with the recovery process. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case in Pensacola, Albany, Fort Walton Beach, Macon, Tallahassee or Valdosta.