What Is “Full Coverage”, Do You Need Uninsured Motorist protection?

There is a great deal of confusion regarding the terms “Personal Injury Protection”, “bodily injury liability”, “uninsured/underinsured motorists”, and “Full Coverage”.

“Full Coverage” is a misnomer that has caught on in Florida largely due to insurance agent’s desire to convince consumers that they maintain at least the statutory minimum coverage and, therefore, have met the standard that allows them to legally drive on the roads of Florida, but, by definition, in no sense is “statutorily required minimum” a “full coverage” under the normal meaning of the words “full “ and “coverage”, as it includes only PIP and property damage coverage.

The State of Florida does not require drivers to maintain third-party bodily injury liability coverage. This means that another driver, who is legally on the road, could crash into you, causing bodily injury to you, and not have insurance coverage available for the bodily injury loss. In other words you, and other drivers on the roads of Florida, are not required to maintain bodily injury coverage which would afford financial protection to victims of negligence. The State of Florida does require it’s drivers to maintain “P.I.P.” (Personal Injury Protection) which is not the same as “bodily injury liability”.

Florida law requires drivers to carry $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It covers a portion of the medical expenses you, your passengers, and other authorized drivers of your car who are injured while in your insured vehicle. But this does not cover bodily injury liability losses to people in any car you may crash into and does not cover pain and suffering losses to you, or to the other people in your car. The PIP coverage only pays your doctors and could pay a portion of your wage loss. But PIP will not provide you or anyone else with a settlement for your pain and suffering. If your are expecting PIP to make you settlement money, you will be disappointed. PIP is not the same as UM, PIP is not the same as bodily injury liability coverage. Bodily injury settlements do not come from PIP. If you, or your friends and relatives have ever settled an injury case for money, the settlement did not come from PIP.

You must also maintain at least $10,000 in property damage liability to pay for damages you cause to other cars, but this coverage, of course, does not protect anyone for bodily injury losses. Many people describe the minimums outlined above as “Full Coverage”.

If a driver with this statutory minimum crashes into you, injures you, and then proudly proclaims “It’s okay! I have full coverage!” Look out. Chances are this driver does not have coverage for the injuries he (or she) caused to you.

Fortunately, you can protect yourself with an additional (higher than the minimum required by law) coverage known as Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage is not free. You have to pay more if you want more than the minimum. We live in a society in which many people are perfectly satisfied with the bare minimum. If you want protection from those who have chosen the bare minimum, yet call it “full coverage” you would be wise to spend more money and purchase Uninsured/Underinsured (UM) Motorist Coverage. If you don’t protect yourself, you are leaving your fate in the hands of the complete stranger who just crashed into you. When you maintain UM coverage you are protecting yourself against all of the people who have nothing more than PIP and property damage yet brag about their “full coverage”.

If, at the time you purchase your automobile insurance, you tell your agent “just find me the cheapest thing possible to make me legal” you will not have UM coverage and you may one day be injured by another driver who asked his agent for the cheapest thing possible, too.

Rather than complaining about the case that got away, because the other driver did not have bodily injury liability coverage, why don’t you protect yourself by purchasing UM?