FOCUS AREA: AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS
BREAKDOWN OF INSURANCE COVERAGE AND HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU
1. PIP – PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION
Florida’s PIP law will pay for your medical bills up to $10,000.00. Whenever you see those commercials on television that repeatedly state “you are entitled to $10,000.00 if you get into an accident” – they are talking about PIP insurance coverage. These commercials are misleading because the $10,000.00 in benefits that are available under this coverage gets paid directly to the doctor you go to – not you! That’s right. Guess who is behind making these commercials? The doctor! You will never see a dime of that money.
The typical PIP policy (if you do not make changes) will pay your medical bills at 80% after a $1,000.00 deductible is applied.
Under most PIP insurance policies, you are entitled to be paid for any lost wages you incurred as a result of a car accident if you were unable to return to work. However, you will have to document your earnings and have your employer sign off. Also, you will need a medical report showing you were injured and could not return to work because of your injuries.
The typical PIP policy (if you do not make changes) will pay your lost wages at 60% after the $1,000.00 deductible is applied.
Please be careful, you do not want your deductible to be applied to your lost wages. Also, you do not want to use most of your PIP insurance for medical bills either. A skilled attorney can carefully negotiate how much of the $10,000.00 will be applied to lost wages versus medical bills.
2. PROPERTY DAMAGE COVERAGE
If you have property damage coverage under your insurance policy, you may think that this pays for the damage to your car if you are in an accident. However, it does not. This coverage will pay for the damage to the other party for the damage to their car (or other property) if you are “at fault” in the accident. Most clients confuse this coverage with “collision coverage.”
3. UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
In Florida, since there are so many drivers without proper car insurance and bodily injury coverage, we strongly recommend that everyone carry uninsured motorist coverage on their own car insurance policy. For purposes of explaining how uninsured motorist coverage works, please note that we use the acronym (UM) for uninsured motorist coverage and (BI) for bodily injury coverage that the other driver must have for you to collect money for pain and suffering. Here is how uninsured motorist coverage works:
Click here to read the examples
4. COLLISION COVERAGE
Collision coverage will pay for your car repairs if you are in an accident regardless of who is at fault. Typically, this coverage comes with a deductible of $500 or $1,000. For those who finance or lease their cars, this is a required coverage by the finance company. If you are in an accident and it is not your fault, the quickest way to get your car repaired is by making a claim with you own insurance company under the collision portion of your automobile insurance. However, you will be responsible for your deductible. Often times, your company will make an estimate of your damages and cut you a check for those damages less your deductible. For example, if your damage was $2,000.00 and your deductible was $500.00, you would receive a check for $1,500.00.
As a courtesy, we will handle your property damage claim, negotiate the settlement for the damage to your vehicle and diminished of value of your vehicle without a fee.
Some clients do not want to make a claim against their own insurance company. We understand this and will happily abide by your request. However, you should know that if we make a claim against the “at fault” party’s insurance (under the property damage portion of their policy), it will take longer. First, we have to obtain a full copy of the accident report so that the other insurance company can accept responsibility. Then, we have to have your vehicle inspected by the other insurance company.
At this stage, the insurance company for other side does play games and usually attempts to assign a certain percentage of fault to the innocent party. An attorney must be careful not to accept this because it could hinder the settlement of the clients bodily injury claim.
If your car is damaged beyond repair, then we have to negotiate the fair value of your vehicle. Fair value is usually set by the black book, blue book, or online by going to Kelley Blue Book and taking the trade-in value. Upgrades, like rims, tires, stereo equipment, and other electronic equipment are not taken into consideration when you use the book values. We have to get receipts and negotiate these items separately. If these items are not damaged, we can get the insurance company to allow you to take these items from the damaged vehicle.
We can usually force the insurance company for the “at fault” party to pay for a rental car until your vehicle is repaired, a check is issued for the damages, or the vehicle is totaled and a check is issued to the fair value. Also, keep in mind that your vehicle will accumulate storage fees from the tow yard as long as it sits there. We can usually force the insurance company to pay for storage until a check is issued.
The biggest issue we face concerning property damage is the loss of value after the car is repaired. This value is truly guesswork and cannot be readily determined without getting a written value from a dealer after the vehicle is repaired.