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Overview of Florida Liability Insurance Rules

In the state of Florida, any driver who hopes to purchase or renew a state license plate and registration must keep at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and at least $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL). Each of these portions of a Florida liability auto policy is required by state law, and any insurance plan must include these two elements at a minimum.

Understanding Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

In the state of Florida, personal injury protection, or PIP, is a required element for all personal auto insurance policies. The state of Florida is different from some U.S. states in the way it frames it legal requirements for liability coverage, and in the specific way such coverage is administered. Florida is a no-fault state, as are some other states. In Florida, personal injury protection is also called Florida no-fault insurance. Its name is a hint to the specific design of the coverage itself. Personal injury protection or Florida no-fault insurance covers the policy holder regardless of fault in the accident situation.

If you have a PIP policy in Florida, your policy will also cover your dependant child, members of your household, and certain other passengers in your vehicle who do not have their own personal injury policy protecting themselves in these circumstances (as long as they do not own a car). If these passengers do own their own car and they are found to be without their own PIP coverage, your policy will not cover them, as this constitutes a violation of Florida state auto insurance regulations. People who do have their own personal injury protection policies who are riding in a car with you when you have an accident will automatically be covered by their own policies.

Florida Property Damage Liability (PDL)

The second required element of a Florida personal auto liability

policy is the property damage liability (PDL) portion. PDL coverage is set aside to pay for the cost of repairing damages you or other covered members of your household cause to other people's property in the course of a collision. This property could be strictly the other driver's car, or it could be other property such as a house or garage someone else owns.

Since both PIP and property damage liability are required for all drivers in the state of Florida, you must maintain both of these forms of personal auto liability coverage in order to maintain your license plate and registration in-state. There are legal and financial repercussions for failure to maintain adequate liability auto coverage in the state of Florida. As a start, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will charge drivers a reinstating fee starting at $150 and increasing to up to $500 for repeat offenses for drivers who have had their licenses suspended for failure to maintain proper auto liability coverage. On top of that, the FLHSMV can suspend your driving privileges, including confiscating your plate and suspending registration, for up to three years' time if you fail to keep liability insurance active. This suspension can be truncated when proof of insurance is provided [1].

Bodily Injury Liability also Available

In addition to the required personal injury protection and property damage liability coverage required of all drivers in the state of Florida, they also have the option of carrying bodily injury liability coverage on their Florida auto liability policy. Bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage takes care of the financial obligations that follow serious and permanent injury or death to others that may result from an at-fault collision in the covered vehicle. Bodily injury liability insurance includes coverage up to the policy limits for these categories of collision-related expenses, as well as providing legal representation if your particular case enters litigation.

Bodily injury liability coverage pays out for the financial costs of injuries either you or a covered family member cause, even if you were driving someone else's automobile at the time of the at-fault accident. In certain cases, it also covers other drivers who are not related to you but who get into an at-fault injury accident while driving your vehicle with your permission [1].

Although bodily injury liability coverage is not legally mandatory in the state of Florida, certain provisions in Florida state law make it highly advisable for every driver in the state to carry. In fact, many auto insurance providers will not even sell an automobile liability insurance policy to Florida drivers without a bodily injury liability portion. This is partly because bodily injury liability insurance or its cash equivalent can be required if you are found to be at fault in an auto accident causing injury to others.

According to the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, any at-fault driver who is deemed responsible for an auto accident resulting in bodily injury and/or personal property damage to others must have at the time of the accident full auto liability insurance protection. This minimum coverage must include at least $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage, as well as at least $20,000 in property damage liability. This law in effect makes it dicey at best for any driver to go without bodily injury liability coverage. Truthfully, BIL is almost a necessity for any driver in Florida who does not want to risk this kind of liability situation, because few have the cash flow needed to deal with such liability concerns out of pocket.

Drivers in Florida who are cited for DUI or other related offenses may also have to maintain increased levels of BIL protection over the course of a stated period, usually three years. Any driver falling into this category must either increase their bodily injury liability protection for the three-year period, or alternately, provide a certificate of deposit in the amount of $350,000 indicating their financial ability to meet such obligations. The minimum levels of BIL coverage mandated in such circumstances for those who must purchase this insurance protection are $100,000 for bodily injury to one person, $300,000 for bodily injury to two or more people, and $50,000 in property damage coverage [2]. This stipulation alone adds significantly to the cost of a DUI over the course of several years, a consideration all drivers need to bear in mind before making decisions to drive after drinking.

As a no-fault state, Florida has some unique requirements for drivers in terms of the auto liability coverage they must purchase in order to legally drive in the state. Personal injury protection (PIP) is a unique requirement that differs from coverage required in many states, because quite often drivers all across the country do not legally have to carry auto insurance coverage that protects them, but only other drivers they may be involved in an accident with. This is good news for Florida drivers, really. Living in Florida and driving on the roads, you know that by keeping the law you have some protection for your own health and safety when you get behind the wheel. Along with property damage liability, PIP makes for an excellent basic foundation of auto insurance protection for car owners all throughout the state of Florida.

[1] http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/frfaqgen.html Retrieved 2010-01-01.
[2] http://www.carinsurance.com/kb/content29270.aspx Retrieved 2010-01-01.

 

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