Minimum Car Insurance Requirements: Is It Enough?
If you have never been in a car accident before, or if you have only ever been involved in a minor car accident, then you might think to yourself, “the minimum car insurance requirements are more than enough to cover the cost of damages.” However, talk to someone who has been severely injured in a car accident, or who has been held liable for damages after causing a serious wreck, and you will soon understand that state minimums really only cover the minimum amount of damages. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the ideal coverage amount is $100,000 in bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident (known as 100/300). However, most states only require a fraction of that coverage. Florida is one such state.
Florida’s Auto Coverage Minimums
Florida drivers are only required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability. The state does not require any coverage “per accident” or “per person.” It does however, require insurers to offer 10/20 bodily injury liability insurance, or $10,000 per person for injuries one causes to another party but no more than $20,000 total. Even this additional amount is far from sufficient for covering the cost of damages in a typical car accident.
The Average Cost of a Car Accident
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, car accidents claim the lives of more than 1.3 million people each year. Another 20 to 50 million are injured in car crashes in a year span. The U.S. alone accounts for over 37,000 fatalities and 2.35 million injuries. Unfortunately, injury and death are not the only costs of a car accident.
Not counting fatal crashes, which often cost families more than $1 million in damages, the average economic costs of car accidents are as follows:
- For a non-fatal disabling injury, the cost is $61,600;
- For an incapacitating injury, the cost is $65,000;
- For a non-incapacitating evident injury, the cost is $21,000; and
- For a possible injury, the cost is $11,900.
Those numbers only take into account immediate monetary losses. They do not take into account long term financial consequences such as lost wages or therapy, and they do not take into account non-economic costs such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium. Once you take into account those costs, the cost of an accident soars to a quarter of a million to several millions of dollars.
How You Can Prepare
Though Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that car accident victims are required to pay for their own damages regardless of who caused an accident—or because it is a no-fault state—you should be more heedful of how much in insurance for which you pay. If you accrue more in damages than your insurance limits, your insurance company is not required to pay for your damages. While the same is true of the other party of an accident, if the other party accrues substantial damages and maxes out his or her coverage, he or she can then turn to your insurance company for the remainder of damages. If your coverage is also not enough, the other party may sue you for the remaining amount. In each of these instances, you would be best served by additional coverage.
Of course, not everyone can afford extra coverage. In fact, most people cannot. That said, if you can afford more than the minimum, our Tampa car accident lawyers at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian advise you to buy the amount recommended by the Insurance Information Institute. Doing so can save you a significant amount of money and headache in the long run. Contact our law firm today to learn more.