In my previous blog about “PIP/PD” insurance and the laws that govern financial responsibility we discussed why a PIP/PD policy does not fully meet the requirements of Florida motorist insurance law (let alone not being adequate coverage to protect your family). In this blog I wanted to share what the current penalties are for not having bodily injury liability coverage or its equivalent.
In the state of Florida, more so than almost any other state in the country, attorneys are likely to be involved in the claims process when an accident occurs and involves “injury.” I use quotation marks when saying injury because the insurance definition of injury may be very different from what our everyday definition of injury is. There does not need to be a wound, blood, broken bones, or even any physical injury to still fall under the insurance definition of “bodily injury.” Here are a few examples:
- An immediate family member and household resident is killed in an automobile accident
- A sore back leaves the motorist unable to work for a week and loses pay while not on the job
- An accident reaggravates an exisiting injury
So due to the broad nature of “bodily injury” there is a high frequency of bodily injury claims against the at-fault party in automobile accidents especially when the claimant is represented by an attorney (which is common in Florida). When an injury and property damage occurs due to an automobile accident, the state of Florida will trigger the request for proof of bodlily injury liability coverage or its equivalent from the at-fault motorist and if that motorist does not have it, penalties will ensue.
The first penalty is in the form of payment to the other party. Even if the at-fault party had an auto insurance policy, failure to purchase bodily injury liability coverage means the at-fault party is responsible for paying the damages out-of-pocket. The state may take further action if the at-fault party does not have the ability to pay up to the state minimum required for bodily injury limits which is $10,000 per person or $20,000 per accident. The other alternative is to have a release signed from all injured parties but this may not be a reliable alternative. If a release cannot be obtained from the injured party and a settlement has (you can learn more about SR-22 and FR-44 filings here) to be paid, the at-fault party may be eligible to break up the settlement into monthly payments.
Until this financial arrangement can be made, the driving priviledges of that party are suspended and a fee will need to be paid in order to reinstate the drivers license. A state filing called an SR-22 will also need to be purchased along with an insurance policy that includes bodily injury coverage. What this filing does is notify the state immediately if the policy is active or cancelled regardless if an insurance need exists or not. The time period for carrying this filing is 3 years and that time period resets if there are any lapses of coverage. These SR-22 policies are typically required to be paid in full.
Don’t get tricked into buying less than what the state of Florida expects you to have just because the premium is slightly less! If you have a PIP/PD policy please consider switching it to a policy with bodily injury coverage. To get started, click here.