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Car Insurance in Estero

How you can be sure what you’re buying is what you want when it comes to purchasing your car insurance?  Car Insurance policies, just like your car, can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  With so many coverage options to choose from, which ones are best for your needs and which ones might not beproviding you enough value to justify the cost?  If your current agent has failed to educate you on what coverage is included on your policy and more importantly what having (or not having) this coverage means to you, than it may be time to find a new agent. 

You may be left bruised up after an accident, but it may be the financial endeavors you face down the road that can hurt you the longest if you aren’t covered properly.  Even if you purchase a policy with adequate coverage to protect you and your family, you may still find yourself in trouble if your agent wrote you incorrectly or did not ask you the proper questions when selling you a policy.  Somethings that you may not see as an issue (living with an undisclosed household member, using your vehicle for work, etc.), your company may be willing to deny a claim over. 

My point is that insurance can be tricky, and it's what you don't know that can really hurt you.  No two companies write the same exact policy, and where one company may give you something another may take it away.  This is why having a good agent is so important.  When shopping for insurance make sure to find an agent that is willing to answer all your questions, and more importantly ask you all the right questions to ensure you are covered correctly.

Also keep in mind when pricing out your policy:

“Insurance doesn’t seem as expensive when you need it”

If you need more information on what you need to register your vehicle in Florida, obtain a Florida driver’s license, or are just seeking general info on Florida DMV, please click the link below.

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

If you want to check the status of your Florida Driver’s License, click the link below:

Bodily Injury

Did you know that you can be sued for injuries and damages that arise from an accident caused by your vehicle, even if you weren’t in the vehicle at the time of accident?  Many people may be under the belief that because they weren’t driving their car when it crashed, which resulted in injuries or property damage, they aren’t liable.  However, this is unfortunately not true.  The legal owner of a vehicle can be sued even if they weren’t in the vehicle at the time of accident, and if you don't have Bodily Injury coverage on your policy you may be in a world of hurt yourself.

Imagine that you lend your keys to a friend to simply make a quick bun run to the local grocery store as you’ve got the grill fired up and the brauts and burgers are already over charcoal.  Never could you have expected in a million years that your friend was going to accidently blow that stop sign right down your street and then, “BANG!”, plows right into another vehicle which they simply just didn’t see.  This incident, like most accidents, happen and is the reason they are called accidents.  Your friend may have never been involved in an accident in their entire life but these things happen.  So what happens next?  Your friend is found at-fault and cited when the police show up, and an ambulance speeds off with the other party which was hit by your vehicle which means that your medical tab for the injured party has most likely already started. 

This is one example of where having Bodily Injury may save you thousands (or more).  If a suit is brought against you due to a covered accident, this coverage will help you pay the cost of medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and in some cases funeral costs.  Also in many cases having Bodily Injury will result in your company providing you a lawyer to defend you in court. 

Even if you don't have much in the form of assets at the time you purchase your car insurance, it should be in everyone’s long-term goals.  Not having bodily injury may inhibit your ability to build equity through saving as your future income may not be safe. If you are found liable in an accident a good lawyer may be able to find a way to garner your wages to cover the damage your responsible for. 

So after discussing a few bad situations you could find yourself in if you don't have Bodily Injury, let’s talk about a good situation you may find yourself in if you DO have bodily injury.  Having higher limits of Bodily Injury for longer periods of time can result in you getting a larger “prior insurance” discount when shopping your rate (all else equal).  Imagine you have an exact clone, with your same driving record, same address, vehicle, etc.  Everything exactly the same except for one thing.  You only have state minimum limits (10/20) of Bodily Injury while they have 100/300 limits.  If I were to quote both of you the same policy, the person with 100/300 Bodily Injury on their prior policy is most likely going to have the cheaper rate.  In many cases the rate difference can be pretty drastic. 

Questions to ask include:

  1. What limits of Bodily Injury Coverage should I carry on my policy?
  2. What does my Bodily Injury cover?
  3. Who would my Bodily Injury coverage apply to?

Uninsured Motorist

Did you know that over 12% of drivers nationwide are underinsured (or uninsured)?  That means while you are on the road, at least 1 out of 10 cars around you at any given time have no insurance or if you’re lucky, have minimum coverage.  Are you ready for the real mind blower? The rate of those uninsured or underinsured vehicles, who zoom down the highway mere inches away from you, this rate is almost double in Florida!  Approximately 24% of registered drivers in Florida are either carrying inadequate coverage or no coverage at all.

http://www.statisticbrain.com/uninsured-motorist-statistics/
http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/uninsured-motorists

Imagine that you are in your vehicle and you are making your daily commute to work.  You had no idea while you were brushing your teeth this morning, but this unfortunate day had an unpleasant surprise waiting for you down the road.  You pull up to a traffic light that just turned red and like most drivers do you stop, the car behind you does not.  Your first thought may be (assuming your still conscious), well at least it wasn’t my fault.  This may be true, but if the driver that hit you falls under the 13% of drivers who are underinsured (or uninsured) than it may not matter much as you may still be stuck paying your own medical bills.  You could always obtain a lawyer and bring the at-fault party to court, but this can be expensive and there is always the risk that the at-fault party doesn’t have anything to sue for.

What if I told you there is a way to avoid playing Russian roulette on the road with these uninsured drivers? 

“Enter, Uninsured Motorist”

If you had uninsured motorist coverage in the accident above you may not have to worry what kind of insurance the driver who hit you had.  If your coverage was adequate to cover all your medical bills which arose from this accident you may not even have to worry about obtaining a lawyer to sue the other party for hurting you.  Not to mention you may not have to worry about the possibility of filing for bankruptcy because everything you have worked your whole life goes down the drain to cover the cost of your injuries which arose from this uninsured driver who had nothing to lose.

Remember when pricing out your coverage:

“Insurance doesn’t seem as expensive when you need it”

Uninsured motorist coverage comes in many different limit options.  You are required to have Bodily Injury (BI) included on your policy before you can purchase uninsured motorist and you can only select a limit of uninsured motorist coverage which does not exceed that of your bodily injury limit.
Ex.) You have Bodily Injury (BI) Limits of 15/30.  You can only insure yourself with 15/30 limits of Uninsured Motorist (UM).
Now say you have $250,000/$500,000 BI limits.  You now have several options for UM coverage ranging from $10,000/$20,000, $25,000/$50,000, $100,000/$300,000, etc. However, you still would not be allow to exceed your 250/500 BI limits.

There is one way to insure yourself with higher limits of UM if you cannot increase your Bodily Injury (BI) any higher or don't want to carry higher limits of BI.  This is called stacking.  When you stack your UM coverage your UM limits is now multiplied by the number of vehicles insured on your policy.  Also in some cases this can be applied across multiple vehicles on multiple policies, but this is a little more complicated and you would be best to ask your agent how this would work for you in your situation.
Ex.) You have UM limits of $100,000/$300,000 on a 3 vehicle auto policy.  Coverage is NOT stacked.  In the event you involved in a not-at-fault accident occurs that triggers you’re UM coverage you would still only have limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per vehicle to cover your parties’ injuries.
Now say you had stacked you’re UM coverage, the same accident listed above would now effectively cover you with limits of $300,000 per person and $900,000 per accident with the same $100,000/$300,000 UM limits listed on your policy.  This is because your stacked coverage (100/300) is now multiplied by 3 (3 Vehicles Scheduled on your policy).

 

Questions to ask include:

  1. Does my policy include Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
  2. What limits of Uninsured Motorist am I eligible for on my policy?
  3. Who is covered under my Uninsured Motorist coverage?
  4. How does my Uninsured Motorist work in the event of an accident?
  5. Is my Uninsured Motorist coverage stacked?

What is
"Full Coverage"
?

Did you know that “full coverage” isn’t technically a coverage? If you don't believe me go pull up your policy and look under your coverage breakdown.  I doubt you will see an actual coverage listed on your policy break down which states “Full Coverage”.  So what is “Full Coverage”?

Well to start, it is one of the most misconceiving terms within the auto insurance industry.  Many insurance agents may sell you a “Full Coverage” policy that includes Comprehensive, Collision, and some level of Liability included.  But does this policy really have you “Fully Covered”? Probably not.  If you current agent has done this to you I would look for a new agent that is willing to take the time to explain what is included in this so called, “Full Coverage” policy. 

So the next time you are at a dealership buying a new car and the dealer says you need to provide them proof of your “Full Coverage”, make sure you review what is included before you purchase a policy blindly from some agent over the phone.  Take the time to ask what is included on that policy and what other coverage options are available to you.  The eagerness to drive off the lot with your shiny new toy may lead to a state of disarray when you get caught up in an accident you weren’t “fully covered” for.

Also tell the dealer at the dealership that what the lender (finance company) really wants to see is called Comprehensive and Collision coverage.  These two separate coverages pair together to cover you vehicle while it is being operated or while it is not moving (parked, etc).  Even with both Comprehensive and Collision coverage you still need to make sure what you are covered.  Also your agent should be able to help you determine who is covered (or more importantly NOT covered) to drive your vehicle. 
Don’t be afraid to ask your agent questions before you pay for a policy and don't let your agent tell you that you are “Fully Covered” without asking him what coverage is included.

Questions to ask include:

  1. Is my vehicle covered for physical damage while driving?
  2. Is my vehicle physically covered if it is parked and not being operated?
  3. Is roadside assistance or rental reimbursement included in my “Full Coverage”?
  4. Who is covered to drive my vehicle, and would my Comprehensive and Collision cover them if they wrecked my car?
  5. What are my deductibles on both my Comprehensive and Collision Coverage? (YES, both have separate deductibles!)

Comprehensive Vs Collison Coverage

Did you know that almost all policies include a deductible you may have to pay before your policy pays for the damage to your vehicle?  Depending on how your vehicle is damaged your policy may cover you claim under Comprehensive or Collision.  These coverage options almost always include a deductible which can come in amounts of $100, 250, 500, 1000, 2000 and in some cases even higher amounts.  While these deductibles can come in handy with lowering the cost of your insurance coverage, it does leave you exposed to higher out-of-pocket cost after an accident.

Some companies have the option to include “disappearing deductibles” which can lower your selected deductibles for Comprehensive and Collison over time. 

Ex)  Your deductible for both Comp/Coll is reduced by $100 each term you go accident free.  If you had a $500 deductible you could go down to a $0 deductible after 5 terms with no accidents.  Each company is different though so ask you agent about how this valuable coverage option would work on your policy.

Collision coverage covers your vehicle in the event your vehicle is in an accident while it is being driven (under its own power).  This coverage would protect you if you were driving and accidently struck another moving car, a parked car, or even a tree. 

But did you know what would happen if a tree hits your car?  If your vehicle is NOT being operated, such as being parked in your driveway during a storm, this is where Comprehensive coverage would come in.  Comprehensive coverage would cover your vehicle in the above accident where a tree fell on your car and puts a dent or two (or more) in your beloved vehicle.

Questions to ask include:

  1. Does my policy include Comprehensive and Collision?
  2. What are my deductibles for both my Comprehensive and Collision coverage?
  3. Will Comprehensive and Collison coverage cover the full cost of my vehicle? (referred to as replacement cost)

Property Damage

Did you know that your property damage coverage doesn’t cover your property?  Your property damage coverage is there to protect you from being sued if you ever damage someone else property in an accident you are deemed at-fault.  If you crash into someone else car, or even say their house, your property damage is designed to pay that person for the damage you have caused in your insured vehicle. 

Property Damage is one of the required coverages you need for your Florida no-fault requirement.  In this case all you typically would need to register your vehicle is a minimum of $10,000 property damage.  But what if you hit a Mercedes Benz?  This is one of the reasons that most companies offer higher limits of property damage, some of the other increments you can purchase this coverage include $20,000, $50,000, $100,000, as well as higher limits with some companies.  When you are shopping your coverage make sure to check out which options you have when selecting your property damage, in many cases it is rather inexpensive to increase this coverage.  This is nice to know because paying a tiny bit more per month can make a HUGE difference if you are ever unfortunate enough to be the cause of an accident with a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe (Over $100,000 Retail!).  If your agent hasn’t recommend higher limits of property damage you should be looking for a new agent who will.

Questions to ask include:

  1. What limit of Property Damage (PD) does my policy cover me for?
  2. What limits of Property Damage (PD) are available to me at without changing any other coverage? (your PD may be capped based on your limits of Bodily Injury)

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Did you know that your Personal Injury Protection can extend coverage to you even if you aren’t in your vehicle?  In some cases it may even extend to you as a pedestrian if you are struck by another vehicle.  However, this can differentiate from one state to another. 
If you have car insurance on a vehicle registered in Florida than chances are you have personal injury protection, which is required on any owner’s vehicle policy.  This valuable coverage provides immediate medical coverage to the driver of a vehicle, regardless of who was at-fault in the accident. There are several options you can usually select when choosing your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) but this can vary between companies, so make sure to ask your agent what options are available to you.

According to Florida’s No-Fault law (FL 627.7407), you may be able to file a claim under your policy’s personal injury protection if you are ever struck by another vehicle as a pedestrian.  Also in many cases your PIP will follow you while riding as a passenger in another vehicle.  To read more about Florida’s Personal Injury Protection law and how it may apply to you, click here.

Questions to ask include:

  1. How would my Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits work if I were involved in an accident?
  2. What portion of my selected Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will go towards medical bills after if I am hurt in an accident?
  3. Who is covered under my Personal Injury Protection (PIP)? (Spouse, children, etc.)
  4. What is the difference between Extended Personal Injury Protection and Enhanced Personal Injury Protection?

 

Rental Reimbursement and Roadside Assistance

Did you know that using your Rental Reimbursement and/or Roadside Assistance can result in a claim?  Just like an accident would be marked on your record, using one of these coverage services on your policy will result in a claim on your record.  Now not all claims are created equal, and they don't all effect your rate the same way.  You may not see a drastic increase in your premium, such as you would after an accident, however companies do keep track of these claims.  Companies can non-renew your policy, or in some cases deny you a new policy, just from having too many of these claims.  Now this is not to say you should not purchase this valuable coverage, you very well should!  This coverage is offered on auto insurance policies from most companies, and it is usually one of your cheaper coverages to add on.  It is a great value buy if you are seeking to enhance your auto insurance coverage and limit your exposure to unforeseen bills after an accident.  If you already have this coverage on your policy or are looking to purchase it, keep in mind that (like many coverages) not all companies version of this coverage is the exact same.

Did you know that most companies have different rules and guidelines regarding their version of Rental Reimbursement and Roadside Assistance? Just about every company covers you differently according to their company’s policy form.  Rental Reimbursement and Roadside Assistance are no different.  Make sure your agent reviews how your company’s version of these coverage works for you, as you may end up stuck in a ditch when you find out your company won’t send you a tow truck.
Also keep in mind if you don't have Rental Reimbursement you may want to reconsider it.  Having to pay the full price of a rental vehicle while yours is still in the shop is no fun.  Rental Reimbursement helps pay for the cost on a per day basis, up to the per day limit of coverage you choose.  The best part is its usually rather inexpensive to purchase this coverage, something that is not true when renting a vehicle.  If you don't believe me go check out prices for rentals online. 

 

Questions to ask include:

  1. What does my roadside assistance include? (Key Lockout, Gas, etc.)
  2. How does my roadside assistance cover me if I have to tow my vehicle? (Mileage limits, max benefit limit, etc.)
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