Reading and understanding your Florida Auto and Homeowner’s Insurance Policies

As Miami Injury attorneys we often hear from our prospective clients about their lack of understanding regarding their insurance coverage. To truly understand an insurance policy, it is important to understand the basics. As we explained in our previous blog pertaining to post loss conditions, an insurance policy is nothing more than a contract. It is essentially a promise to cover certain losses or events, in exchange for premium. Most insurance policies require an insured to comply with certain conditions. If this conditions are adhered to and no exclusions apply, then coverage of the loss should occur.

With insurance policies it is paramount to look at details. Whether a loss or event is covered will turn on specific language in the policy. Do not assume that certain items or losses will be covered because they were covered in your previous policy. On many occasions, policy language changes from year to year. Therefore, one may assume that certain circumstances are covered when a policy is renewed, but due to policy language changes that may not be the case. In other words, when buying new coverage it is important to know exactly what you’re getting.

So how do you know what is covered under your policy? The declarations page of most policies will relay what and who is covered. For example, with a car policy one can see what types of coverage is available and what cars are covered. Here we note that Florida is one of the only states that does not require Bodily Injury coverage. The only requirements in Florida are PIP property damage coverage. The PIP coverage should cover your own medical expenses up to $10,000.00, and property damage coverage provide at least $10,000 to cover damage to other vehicles. Indeed, if your policy complies with these requirements, then one is most likely complying with the minimum requirements in Florida. However, meeting the minimum requirement may not be the best course of action when it comes to acquiring insurance. The declarations page will relay whether Bodily Injury, Med Pay, Uninsured Motorist, and or Collision coverage is present as well.  Bodily Injury offers coverage to the other parties that may have been insured as a result of a collision. Med Pay offers coverage for medical expenses beyond the PIP coverage. Uninsured Motorist provides coverage if you were insured in an accident and the culpable party has no Bodily Injury or insufficient ability to compensate for the damages. Collision coverage covers damages to your own vehicle.

The above is an oversimplification and each coverage deserves a more detailed explanation. Nonetheless, to explain each coverage in detail would require more of treatise and expansion than is possible in this medium. However, the above may help you understand your car insurance policy and the particular coverage it entails. Keep in mind that buying the bare minimum auto coverage may comply with Florida law, but may leave tremendous exposure.

Homeowner’s insurance policies vary and should be truly studied and understood by the insured. After all, to many the home is the most important asset. These policies have tremendous variation depending on the value of the home and the type of coverage one is seeking.  A homeowner’s policy may include coverage for dwelling, other structures, personal property, and loss of use. Homeowner’s policy may also include personal liability and med pay.  Dwelling is the coverage to actual physical structure of the home.  Other structures refers to other buildings or assets that may be attached to the property. Some structures like cabanas or gazebos may not be covered and actually excluded by policy language.  Personal property refers to furniture and other belongings within the premises. Loss of use refers to added expenses resulting from the interruption of normal function of the household. For example, having to eat out or rent a hotel room.

Personal liability coverage will cover injuries to an individual who may suffer an accident on your premises. Many policies in Florida today exclude coverage of injuries caused by animals or dogs on the premises. If you own a dog, then it will be most likely necessary to purchase a separate rider or policy in order to be covered. Med pay, covers medical expenses to injuries sustained by a third party on your premises. Med pay coverage is extended regardless of fault.

Understanding insurance policies is a rather extended subject. But to summarize it is important to understand what is covered, what is excluded, and what your conditions or duties are after a loss are. It is also important to understand that purchasing the bare minimum policy under any circumstance may leave an insured exposed. Therefore, it is wise to consult with an expert when purchasing coverage for an auto, home, or any other asset. Miami Insurance attorney are here to help you. Please do not hesitate to call 1.888.413.8353.