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Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

Jenny is driving to the beach in her bathing suit with no worries in her mind, other than getting a nice sun tan. However, her perfect day was cut short when Tom was not paying attention and rear ended Jenny with his car. Tom is at fault because there is a presumption that the person driving behind you should maintain a safe distance. But you may ask: Who is responsible for paying for the damages? You, the driver at fault, but if you have auto insurance, then they should pay for you.

Florida requires Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage (PD) Insurance as a minimum coverage for automobiles. Personal Injury Protection covers your medical bills up to $10,000 regardless of who is at fault and Property Damage covers the damage up to $10,000 for damage caused by you to other people's vehicles or property. You can elect to pay for higher coverage, say you could pay to cover $50,000 for property damage to others instead of just $10,000. For a long time it was the only minimum insurance coverage required by Florida Law. For instance, in the above example Tom is at fault for the accident because he rear-ended Jenny. Tom only has the minimum insurance required by law, PIP and PD. Therefore, Tom's insurance would pay for Jenny's vehicle repairs up to $10,000 and Tom's insurance would pay for Tom's hospital bills up to $10,000. Now, Tom's coverage does not cover the damage to his vehicle and it does not cover medical bills for Jenny. Collision coverage would cover Tom's vehicle's damage if he had that coverage. Now, the proper coverage for Jenny's medical bills would be Bodily Injury Liability Insurance (BI). So, if Tom also purchased Bodily Injury Liability Insurance (BI) for say $20,000 coverage and if Jenny went to the hospital after the accident and her medical bills were $16,000 then Tom's BI coverage would pay her medical bills and Tom would be financially safe from any lawsuits.

Now, let's say Tom was frugal or ignorant and he never purchased BI coverage. Then Jenny would sue him for the $16,000 medical bills and he would have to spend several thousand dollars hiring a private attorney to defend his case. The other advantage of having bodily injury liability insurance is that your insurance company will generally cover attorney's fees and provide you a free attorney to cover you in the case that you are sued by the other driver.

If you are sued in Florida and you lose the car accident personal injury case then the Plaintiff (Jenny) can try to recover from you for the next 20 years. They can garnish your wages (take 25% of your paycheck every month), they can freeze your bank accounts (can take everything you have in your bank), they can take personal property as well as real estate, with the exemption of homestead property (property that is your main house in Florida where you live and you have applied for the homestead exemption with your local county property appraiser's office prior to the judgment on the lawsuit being recorded).

One last note, if you do not carry BI coverage, then after an accident the State of Florida Department of Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee will send you a letter requesting that you provide proof of your BI coverage and if you don't then they will require you to purchase an SR 22 which is a form that your insurance company has to file with the state. The SR 22 requires your insurance company to report to Tallahassee on a frequent basis whether you have insurance or not. Generally, when you have an SR 22 requirement your insurance premium will rise.

The moral of the story is for you to check your automobile policy and if you do not have BI then add it to your policy as soon as you can because it can be very expensive if you don't have it.


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