Category Archives: Insurance Coverage

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 6 – Car Wrecks And Rental Cars.

Many Florida car wreck victims assume that if they are caused to be without a car because of someone else’s negligence, they will automatically get a rental car. Many believe that as they are on the scene, someone from the other person’s car insurance company is going to drive up to the scene and hand them the keys to a rental car and haul their car off to be fixed or totaled. This could not be further from how it works in real life.

Loss Of Use Damages

After a Florida car wreck, the at-fault driver will be responsible for what is called “loss of use damages.” Loss of use damages are damages associated with the loss of use of your vehicle. For some reason, there has been sufficient damage to your car to make it unsafe to drive.

If, for instance, your car only has minor damage and those damages do not cause your vehicle to be unsafe to operate, then you are not going to be eligible for loss of use damage until they start working on the repairs.

Accepting Liability Prior to Offering A Rental Car

Before any company will offer a rental car, the insurance company first has to accept liability for the car wreck. This usually takes between 48 hours and a week on some occasions. What generally happens during this time is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will conduct what they will call an investigation.

The Difference Between Driver’s Exchange Of Information And The Wreck Report

This investigation will consist of reviewing the wreck report and speaking with the insured driver. Keep in mind that the full wreck report for a Florida car wreck will not be available for several days following the wreck. Typically, between 2 and 5 days following a wreck, the Florida Wreck Report is not the piece of paper the Trooper gives you at the scene. That document is titled the Florida Exchange of Information form. That is not the wreck report. The wreck report will be drafted by the same trooper and will be released later. Keep in mind that it is always important to wait for law enforcement to complete a report on any wreck. 

If you do not have an official wreck report following a wreck, the insurance company will have much more room to come up with a different version of events. Once available, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will review that report and compare the description of the wreck to the version of events provided by their insured.

What If There Is A Contradiction Or Reasonable Doubt? 

If there is no difference, then the at-fault driver’s insurance will typically accept liability or responsibility for the wreck. If there is some contradiction, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually go with what the trooper concluded unless there is another witness who also sides with the other version of events. Any reasonable doubt will likely cause the insurance company to refuse to accept liability. If there is no outright acceptance of responsibility, there will not be any offer to provide a rental car.

How Long Will The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Pay For A Rental Car?

However, if the insurance company for the negligent driver does accept responsibility, then they will usually offer a rental car if your vehicle is unsafe to drive.  They will usually extend this offer until they have made a check for your car (if its a total loss) available for you.  They will not pay for a minute extra once they have presented you with a check for your car.

What If The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Coverage?

It is also important to understand that if an at fault driver in a Florida car wreck case doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your car damages and provide money for a rental car, the insurance company will not offer that car.  Your only option at that point is to see if your insurance policy has a rental car benefit and if it doesn’t then it will be your responsibility to pay for the rental.  This is a huge inconvenience and if you end up with an injury case, inconvenience is an element of damages that can be collected from the at fault driver within in the injury case.

For more information about rental cars following a Florida car wreck case, please feel free to reach out to our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON RENTAL CARS AFTER YOUR CAR WRECK >


Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 4 – Why Does It Matter If You Elect To Purchase Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida is the sixth-highest state with the most uninsured drivers, at 20.4 percent. Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist insurance kicks in to cover the costs of being involved in a car accident when the other driver has little or no insurance.

What is UM Coverage And Why Should You Have It?

This is obviously a concerning fact when you consider that most people have the minimum amount of insurance coverage and it seems that those drivers are the ones that cause most of the car wrecks in Florida. This again means that you should always purchase as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you can afford.  This coverage is also known as “UM” or “UIM” coverage.

The reason UM coverage is so important is that it functions just like the injury coverage bought by the at-fault driver. So, if you are in a wreck and the at-fault driver is like most in Florida and has either no coverage or a small amount of coverage and your injuries are serious, then UM coverage will provide coverage for the other driver’s negligence.

We have written and spoken at some length about the necessity of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. The basis for this advice is that most drivers in Florida have only the minimum required insurance.  This means that most drivers have ZERO coverage for car wreck victim injuries, and this is completely legal. In Florida, you are only required by law to have $10,000.00 in property damage liability coverage and $10,000.00 in personal injury protection coverage (which is coverage that pays for the policyholder’s car wreck-related injuries).

So, most Florida drivers will have no coverage for the injuries they cause to you and your loved ones. It is imperative that you secure the most uninsured motorist coverage that you can afford.

Stacked vs. Non-Stacked Coverage

Since we have covered the basis for uninsured motorist coverage, we now should discuss how “stacked” uninsured motorist coverage works. So, when you elect to have uninsured motorist coverage, you are also going to be given the option to have “stacked” or “non-stacked” uninsured motorist coverage.

Stacked

Stacked insurance essentially increases the amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage dependent on the number of vehicles insured. In Florida, drivers have the option to stack policies within one policy or across multiple policies.

An example of stacking across multiple policies:

Assume you have two separate insurance policies for two different cars, and each has $60,000 of UM bodily injury (UMBI) coverage. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and choose to stack your coverage, you can increase the limit to $120,000 to cover medical and/or property payments in excess of the $60,000 policy limit, assuming both vehicles are registered in your name.

An example of stacking within one policy:

Assume you have four cars each with $40,000 of UMBI coverage. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you will be able to combine the coverage of all three vehicles under the policy, giving you $160,000 in coverage instead of just $40,000 for one car.

Non-Stacked

If, however, you buy uninsured motorist but elect to have “non-stacking” coverage or you only have one car in your household, then purchasing $100,000.00 will result in you having only $100,000.00 in coverage. This is true even if you have multiple cars in the same family.

There is an additional premium for “stacked” uninsured motorist coverage, but relatively speaking, the cost is quite minimal considering the large difference in the amount of coverage that is provided if you are in a situation where you need to utilize that amount of coverage. Stacked insurance essentially increases the amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage dependent on the number of vehicles insured. 

In Florida, drivers have the option to stack policies within one policy or across multiple policies.

The Pros and Cons of Stacking Coverage:

Pros:

You have higher coverage limits after an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver without raising your liability limits.

Cons:

Results in higher monthly premiums.

However, keep in mind that if you can afford to pay the higher premium, in the long run, if you were to get into an accident with an uninsured driver, it would be much more beneficial than paying out of pocket for all the incurred expenses.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >


If you have questions about UM/UIM coverage as it relates to your Florida automobile policy, you can contact us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or call 855Hirejoe.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 3 – Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive CoverageComprehensive coverage is important optional coverage that all Florida insureds should consider purchasing. Comprehensive coverage basically covers any damage to your vehicle caused by virtually anything other than a collision with another vehicle.

What Does This Insurance Cover?

Your comprehensive auto insurance policy is like a bubble around your vehicle protecting it from harm. Unlike your liability insurance, which covers anything involving personal injury or property damage, comprehensive insurance covers non-vehicle related accidents, including:

  • Earthquakes
  • Falling objects (i.e., tree limb)
  • Fire or explosions
  • Floods
  • Hail
  • Hitting an animal
  • Lightning from thunderstorms, hurricanes, etc.
  • Theft
  • Tornadoes
  • Vandalism and other cases of civil disobedience (i.e. riots)
  • Windshield damage

Comprehensive auto insurance is just that — comprehensive. But it doesn’t cover everything. Damage to your car or another person’s car from a collision are still going to cost you, as are medical expenses for you and your passengers.

These hazards are generally rare occurrences, and that is what makes them relatively inexpensive coverage.

Comprehensive vs Collision Insurance Coverage

There’s more than one way to expand your insurance coverage to protect your assets against the unexpected. Collision insurance will help you pay for any needed repairs in the event of a car-on-car accident. It covers collisions with other vehicles and collisions with stationary objects (i.e., fences, light poles, etc.). It also covers single-car rollover accidents, which can be beneficial for those navigating Florida’s slick highways during during the summer months.

Similar to comprehensive coverage, collision coverage will require the policyholder to pay a deductible in order to receive the actual cash value for any necessary repairs or replacements for a damaged vehicle. What it does not cover is damage to another person’s vehicle. In other words, if you were involved in a crash with another driver, and it was later determined that you were at fault for the crash, your collision insurance would cover your vehicle exclusively.

Again, comprehensive coverage is not required by Florida law, but when you request “full coverage,” it comes with a full automobile policy in Florida.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >

If you have questions about comprehensive automobile coverage as it relates to your Florida automobile policy, you can contact us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or call 855Hirejoe.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 2 – What Is Collision Coverage And Why Is It Important?

So, as we have discussed elsewhere on this site, Florida automobile insurance is not a “package deal”. Apart from the two items required by law, it is more of an a la carte purchase in which you, the consumer, can pick and choose which coverage you want.

What Is Required?

Florida law requires that everyone purchase $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage (aka no-fault or PIP coverage), and $10,000 in property damage liability.

What Does PIP Cover?

PIP coverage covers your injuries related to a car wreck. Your own policy will pay your medical expenses and lost wages, capped at $10,000. This is called “no-fault” coverage because it doesn’t matter who is “at fault” for the wreck since each party gets the benefit of this coverage on their respective policy so long as they are involved in a car wreck and they are in the car that has the Florida car insurance policy.

What Does Property Damage Liability Cover?

Property damage liability coverage is also required by Florida law. The law requires a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. Property damage liability coverage is coverage for the other party’s car when you are at fault for a wreck. So, if you cause a wreck in Florida, you are required to at least have $10,000 in coverage for the damage to the victim’s car.

Collision Insurance

Collision coverage is an optional coverage you can purchase that serves basic functions. First, if you are at fault for a wreck, having collision coverage will allow you to get your car fixed and paid for by your insurance company. Second, if you are the victim of a car wreck and the at-fault party only has the $10,000 minimum property damage coverage, having collision coverage will allow you to collect in full for your vehicle damage.


Your Collision Coverage Should Be Carried At An Amount Equal To The Fair Market Value Of Your Car.


This will assist in the event that it is totaled in a car wreck and the at-fault party only has $10,000  in coverage.

If you or a family member has questions about collision coverage, please feel free to contact our firm at zarzaurlaw.comor call us at 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR VIDEO HERE >


Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Florida Supreme Court Rules Medicaid Liens Cannot Be Applied To Future Medical Expenses

On July 5, 2018, the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Giraldo v. Agency for Health Care Administration. The case dealt with the federal Medicaid Act, a joint federal-state cooperative program that helps states provide medical services to residents who cannot otherwise afford treatment; the Medicaid Act is part of the broader Social Security Act.

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court held that “under federal law, AHCA (the Agency for Health Care Administration) may only reach the past medical expense portion of a Medicaid recipient’s tort recovery to satisfy its Medicaid lien.” In deciding to limit the lien rights of AHCA, the Court cited the federal Medicaid Act’s “anti-lien” provision, noting that the federal Medicaid Act preempts the Florida Medicaid statute on this issue. The ruling is a major victory for plaintiffs with severe injuries or large future medical treatment costs; the ruling prevents AHCA from putting a Medicaid lien on a plaintiff’s future medical treatment received under a settlement or judgment.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you have any questions about this recent Florida Supreme Court ruling or about an injury that you or someone you know has sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence, please do not hesitate to contact Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Joe Zarzaur, and the firm of Zarzaur Law, P.A. at 855-hirejoe or on the web at www.zarzaurlaw.com.

References:
http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2018/sc17-297.pdf
http://www.floridasupremecourt.org