How Much Car Insurance Should I Buy?
In the over 20 years that Sharon and I have been working together on the personal injury side of the law, we have probably heard our clients say at least a thousand times that “I have full coverage.” Neither Sharon nor I really know what that means because each individual circumstance, or case, dictates how much coverage is needed.
Obviously, you have to buy coverages that Florida law requires you to purchase, but how do you decide what other coverages you should buy?
There are three basic factors that must be taken into account to aid you in this decision; cost, family members in your household, and the assets that you own.
You do not want to be insurance rich and cash poor, so cost plays a big factor in a decision to purchase optional coverages. However, you also do not want to be underinsured and not in a position to protect yourself and your family from injuries and damages caused by an uninsured, or underinsured motorist. Currently, we are finding through the cases we review that about 60 percent of the people driving in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Hernando either have no Bodily Injury Liability Coverage, or they have a very minimal amount, usually $10,000.00, for the bodily injuries they caused our clients due to their negligence. Thus, we find that in a large amount of cases, there is a woefully insufficient amount of Bodily Injury Liability Coverage to even cover the injured party’s out-of pocket medical bills.
Florida law allows you to purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in an amount equal to your Bodily Injury Liability limits. You can also purchase a stacking provision under your policy which allows you to stack one vehicle’s Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage upon another vehicle’s if your damages warrant the payment of stacking Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage is purchased to protect the insured person’s assets. Therefore, you want to purchase Bodily Injury Liability Coverage that is equal to the assets that you own which could be attached to by a judgment obtained through litigation by the person you cause injury to due to your negligence. When you have sufficient liability coverage in place, then you have peace of mind that the assets you and your spouse have worked so hard to obtain are protected from attack by that layer of coverage you purchased from your automobile insurance company. Additionally, by purchasing this valuable coverage, your automobile insurance company is responsible for defending against claims brought by the injured party including the cost of the attorney and litigation expenses incurred in your defense if that need arises.
Furthermore, as previously stated, in Florida, you cannot purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage without the purchase of Bodily Injury Liability Coverage and then only up to the limits you purchased in Bodily Injury Liability Coverage.
It is our belief that Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is the most important coverage you can buy because so many people are either Uninsured or Underinsured in Florida, and thus you need to protect yourself and your family against this peril.
There are other optional auto coverages you can buy in Florida. We recommend you consult a trusted insurance agent for guidance on which coverages are right for your situation before entering into a contract with an Auto Insurance Carrier.