Car accidents and injuries happen, and insurance may help to protect the parties involved in an accident or other event resulting in personal injury or death, but insurance might not provide coverage in all cases. If you are injured in Florida – or elsewhere in the United States – you should be aware that many different types of insurance may provide you with protection and a source of recovery for injuries and wrongful death.
The following should serve as a guide to understand what kind of insurance coverage to choose.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage covers expenses related to the injury or death of another driver or a pedestrian when an accident is the insured’s fault. This is the coverage that would most likely apply in the event a non-resident was injured by an insured driver and that driver was at fault.
Property Damage Liability
This type of coverage indemnifies the insured driver when they are at fault for expenses related to the damage of another person’s property, such as vehicles, homes, and other buildings. For example, if a non-resident’s own vehicle or vacation home were damaged by a negligent insured driver, the non-resident’s property would be covered by the at-fault driver’s property damage liability coverage.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
This coverage covers medical expenses in the event the insured driver is injured in an accident and the other driver, who does not have any insurance, is at fault.
This type of coverage does not exist in every state, but it is required in Florida. In general, no-fault insurance is any type of insurance where the insured’s own insurance company indemnifies or compensates the insured for their losses, regardless of who is actually at fault or caused the damage.
Under Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, motor vehicle owners are required to obtain at least $10,000 in no-fault coverage from their auto insurance company. This coverage is called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. (Fla. Stat. §§ 627.733, 627.736.) PIP is meant to provide coverage for the immediate emergency medical expenses following an accident in order to avoid out-of-pocket expenses, but non-residents should be aware that PIP might not apply to them.
Examples of instances where PIP benefits will not be available to non-residents of Florida are:
- A non-resident passenger in the insured’s motor vehicle is injured while travelling outside the state of Florida
- A non-resident pedestrian is injured by an insured driver
Of course, non-residents may eventually be able to recover medical expenses and other damages under one of the other types of coverage. Also, non-residents of Florida who keep a motor vehicle in Florida which has been present in the state for more than 90 days in the previous year are required to maintain an auto insurance policy which meets the PIP requirements for as long as the vehicle is kept in Florida. (Fla. Stat. § 627.733(2)).
How does this apply to Rental Car Insurance?
Most car rental agencies offer two basic products, Loss-Damage Waiver and Liability. Loss-Damage Waiver protects the renter from all financial responsibilities for theft, vandalism, loss or damage to the rented car. Supplemental Liability Insurance protects the renter from lawsuits by victims of accidents in the same way as Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability would on a driver’s own insurance.
Drivers who rent a car may also be covered under their own insurance policies, or, if paying by credit card, by rental insurance provided by the credit card company. However, it is important to know if you are already covered before deciding to decline the rental agency’s insurance.
Given Florida’s popularity as a travel destination, it is important for non-residents to be prepared and well-informed in the event an automobile related injury or death occurs. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of insurance law in the event you or someone you know is injured or killed in an automobile accident.
For more information regarding personal injury, including automobile accidents, please see our other articles on these topics under Personal Injury.
Urban Thier & Federer and its attorneys have been involved in many United States, Germany, and United Kingdom personal injury cases with local and international implications. A particular focus of this law firm’s practice is on personal injury matters in the state of Florida. However, we also assist non-resident clients to recover damages for cases of injury and wrongful death. Via its offices in Orlando, New York, Munich, and London, we assist clients in Florida and abroad.
Christian T. Fahrig; Carl Christian Thier