I regularly have uncomfortable conversations with clients wherein I inform them that the party that caused their car accident does not have insurance, and that as a result, their chances of making a recovery for their damages are slim to none. An Insurance Research Council study, Uninsured Motorists, 2017 Edition, examined data collected from 14 insurers representing approximately 60 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in 2015. The result was that Florida led the nation in uninsured drivers at 26.7%!
Collision coverage is the type of insurance that protects your own car from property damage resulting from an accident, regardless of who is at fault. When another party damages your vehicle, that party is supposed to address your damages. In fact, Florida requires that every driver on the road carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and at least $10,000 in Property Damage (PD) coverage. Property Damage coverage protects you by covering damage that you cause to the property of another. Due to Florida’s requirement that everyone carry PD coverage, many people with older vehicles that are owned outright (no financing) choose to remove collision from their policy in an effort to save money. Many people feel that they are safe drivers and will “self-insure” against damage they cause, and they will hold someone else responsible should that person be at fault. This sounds like a great way to save money in theory In reality, it costs Florida drivers untold sums of money every year.
When someone does not have any insurance coverage, the only remedy is to sue that person individually and obtain a judgment against them. A judgment states what you’re entitled to. However, next comes executing that judgment and actually trying to collect money. This process can take many months, and you could easily end up spending more than the cost of the repairs to your car in legal fees and costs alone. You might find yourself in a situation where your car is totaled and you are not in a position to purchase another vehicle.
The best way to avoid this conundrum is to always carry collision coverage. In the event you’re hit by someone with inadequate coverage (remember only $10k is required), you will always have a way to get your vehicle fixed or replaced. There are other less-direct benefits as well. For example, if you’re involved in an accident with disputed liability and you do not carry collision coverage, there will be nobody to “go to bat” for you and try to push the Liability decision in your favor. If you do have collision coverage, your property damage adjuster will use the resources of your insurance company to fight the other side for you and reduce or erase your deductible. In addition, the outcome of the liability decision can also help you during negotiation of an injury claim.
As you can see, driving without collision coverage is the functional equivalent of gambling. Every time you hop in your car, you are betting that someone without insurance is not going to hit you. I can promise you that you do not want to lose that bet!