Automobile Insurance: Getting The Best Coverage

Most consumers rely primarily upon the advice of their insurance agents to get the best possible automotive insurance coverage. However, the consumer must understand that minimizing a premium places the consumer in jeopardy.

You should seek to protect yourself to the greatest extent possible from personal liability in the event of an accident. Most importantly, you will want to protect yourself with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Should you find yourself in an accident where the adverse vehicle has minimal or no coverage, if you or your passengers are hurt as a result of the other driver's negligence, without uninsured/underinsured coverage your passengers and you may be limited in recovery for your injuries and any pain and suffering sustained . Such coverage also protects you while you are a passenger in someone else's vehicle.

Automobile insurers will provide underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage to you but not necessarily at the same level as your own liability insurance (to compensate a third party from your own negligence). It is a good idea to get underinsured/uninsured coverage to protect yourself to the same extent as your underlying coverage. That is, you should at least protect yourself to the same extent as anyone who is involved in an accident with you.

In Florida, you are automatically provided underinsured/uninsured coverage with the same limits as your liability coverage, if you do not voluntarily waive that coverage in writing. Some umbrella policies do not expressly state that there is uninsured coverage. Do not take the risk of a later dispute with your carrier. Ask for explicit coverage in your umbrella policy, even though there may be an additional charge.

It is also advisable to protect your personal assets beyond the extent of your underlying automobile coverage. Most insurers will offer umbrella liability coverage of one million dollars or more for an additional $200 to $300 per year if you maintain underlying coverage at certain limits usually of $100,000 per individual/ $300,000 per occurrence or $300,000 per individual/$300,000 per occurrence. Although this will cost more, make sure that your umbrella policy provides for uninsured/underinsured coverages. Protect yourself to protect your assets in the event of an unforeseen accident.

Finally, your insurance policy will provide personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to pay your own medical expenses in the event of an accident. While this coverage by statute is in the amount of $10,000, there may be a deductible, resulting in you bearing some of these expenses. It is not uncommon to see $2,000 deductibles on these policy provisions. That is, you will be responsible for $2,000 of your coverage up to $10,000. Also, be aware that under the PIP protection you are only covered to the extent of 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages. That may not seem burdensome now, but in the event of an accident, can result in significant expenses and costs to you. You can purchase additional medical payments coverage to cover the additional extra 20% of your medical expenses not covered by the standard PIP benefits. If you choose to pay for it, you can also purchase extended PIP benefits of $10,000 to which the same medical expense and lost wage deductibles apply. Evaluate the benefits against the risk and the cost involved with your agent in deciding whether to elect this additional coverage. While the out of pocket expenses for this coverage can seem significant your personal protection is worth the expense.