Tag Archives: car insurance

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.

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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: What Is Property Damage Liability Coverage?

Property Damage Liability Coverage FLFlorida law requires that each driver purchase at least $10,000 of property damage liability coverage. This is the coverage that will pay for the damage to another’s car in the event that you are at fault in a collision. Even though Florida law only requires that you purchase $10,000, it is probably a good idea to purchase more since many cars on the road are worth more than $10,000.

The reason it is called “property damage liability coverage” is that the insurance company is saying that if you are held liable for property damage that you cause, then the company will pay for that liability up to the dollar amount purchased by you in the policy.

The term “property” includes, for example, a fence, telephone pole, or building, as well as another car.

Coverage applies even if you drive someone else’s car. Depending on the terms and conditions of your policy, it may also include anyone else who uses your car with your permission.

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If you have questions about property damage liability coverage, feel free to reach out to us at zarzaurlaw.com or 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.

Liability in Lending Out Your Car

Did you know car insurance follows the car, NOT the driver?

If you decide to lend out your car, your car insurance acts as the primary coverage and the driver’s insurance (if they have any) acts as the secondary or excess insurance. If your car gets in an accident, you will have to be the one to file a claim with your insurance, pay the deductible and most likely expect a rate increase.Does insurance cover others driving my car?

For example, let’s say you let your friend, David, borrow your car to go to the store for you. On the way, David causes a 4 car pile-up that goes beyond your insurance coverage, you can still be sued by the other people involved in the accident for medical and property damage costs. Even though you were not the one driving, the car is in your name, with your insurance.

 

Permissive v. Non-permissive Usage

Permissive

Giving consent to someone else to drive your car is usually no problem. There is an omnibus clause in your insurance policy stating any driver, family member who lives with you, and/or dependent children at school will be covered under your insurance if they have permission to use the vehicle. Your insurance will usually cover the driver if they have permission to use the vehicle. Again, contact your insurance provider for complete policy details and to discuss further for accuracy.

Non-permissive

If a driver does not have your permission to use the car, you will likely not be responsible for third party damages. However, you may still be liable for the damages to your own car. For example, imagine your car was stolen and was involved in an accident with a Mercedes. You would not be responsible for damages to the Mercedes, but would have to go through your insurance to fix the damages sustained by your own vehicle.

Additionally, if your friend borrows your car without permission and causes an accident, their insurance will be primary and yours secondary. However, if your friend does not have insurance then unfortunately, you are out of luck and will be liable for damages.

Keep in mind, unless you explicitly deny permission to a friend, or family member somehow, most insurance companies will assume permission was granted. It would be hard to prove otherwise, even if you did not verbally grant permission or give them the keys.

 

Excluding Driver on Policy

If you exclude a driver on your policy to not cover them on purpose, you will save on your premium. You likely chose to exclude these people because they are higher risk for causing an accident-whether it be their age, bad driving record etc.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, you will not be held liable for personal injury, but you and the excluded driver may be responsible for personal liability.

 

Using an Employee Vehicle on the Job

What if you borrow or use a company vehicle? An employer can be held liable for an employee vehicle being involved in an accident by an employee if the employee was driving for employment purposes or within the “course and scope of employment”. Moreover, an employer can be held liable for giving an employee use of their car if they know the employee is a reckless, incompetent and/or unlicensed driver.

For an employer to be held liable by the use of the car by an employee, it must be shown that an employer-employee relationship exists.

 

Having a Family Member Use Your Car

This usually only involves letting a minor child borrow the car. The head of the household or guardian will be liable for a minor’s reckless or negligent driving if they give permission for the minor to utilize the vehicle. In Florida, liability extends to the a parent or guardian who signed a minor’s application for their driver license. This is why it is imperative that parents and guardians of minors only allow these minors to borrow the car if they seem fit as a driver. Any bad habits, or bad driving tendencies known to the parents or guardian could lead to full liability of any accident the minor causes.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Contact your insurance company to make sure you understand the policy for lending out your car to other drivers.
  • Make sure if you do lend out your car that it is to someone with a valid driver’s license, and someone whom you trust with your car. If you know the person is reckless or unsafe on the road as a driver, think twice before letting them borrow your car.
  • Make sure your vehicle registration and insurance information are in your glove box.

Safety and prevention techniques reduce the likelihood of having an auto accident. If you have questions about the liability in lending your car to someone who got in an accident, it is 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.

 

Sources:

https://www.dmv.org/insurance/when-another-driver-has-an-accident-in-your-car.php
https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/personal-injury/auto-accidents/liability-law-and-loaning-your-car.html
https://pocketsense.com/happens-let-someone-drive-car-car-insurance-gets-wreck-18544.html