Under Florida's "no-fault" rule for car accident insurance claims, each driver knows how much injury compensation is available because they file a claim under their own policies. However, you should know that your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage only pays 80 percent of your medical bills and about 60 percent of lost wages after a car accident.
Car accident injuries can cause serious financial hardship, and you should not be forced to bear the burden of an accident caused by someone else. Under Florida law, you are allowed to sue an at-fault driver if medical bills and lost income from an accident exceed $10,000. But how can you get the proper payment if you don't know how much insurance the other driver has?
Why Do Policy Limits Matter in a Crash Case?
All insurance policies have a "policy limit," which is the maximum amount the carrier will pay for a covered event. Florida's car insurance requirements call for a minimum of $10,000 PIP and $10,000 property damage liability—no bodily injury liability insurance is required by law. The amount of insurance the other driver purchased is vital information in your injury case, especially if you or your attorney wants to negotiate a fair settlement.
For example, let's say you're in an accident that causes $50,000 in medical and lost wage costs. If the at-fault driver only purchased the minimum amount of insurance, the insurer is going to pay a maximum of $10,000—regardless of how much your injuries actually cost.
If the at-fault driver was also injured, the insurer deducts the amount paid to the at-fault driver from that same $10,000 before paying you, since both claims involve the same accident. If the amount of your claim exceeds the other driver's policy limit, you would probably seek payment through your health insurance and car insurance—especially if you have purchased collision or underinsured motorist coverage—before relying on the negligent party's insurance.
On the other hand, let's say the other driver's policy limit is $100,000 for a single accident. While this is more than enough to pay your claim at the full value of $50,000, the insurance company makes you an offer of $30,000. By preventing you from knowing the full value of the policy, the insurer has a better chance of getting you to accept less than you're entitled to because you don't know how much is available.
Four Ways to Determine the Other Driver's Policy Limit
Insurance providers are often unwilling to disclose the amount of coverage to anyone other than the policyholders. That said, there are a few ways to discover how much insurance is available in your car accident case:
- Ask the at-fault driver. When you exchange information at the accident scene, you should ask for the name of the driver's insurance provider and policy number. If the other driver takes this information from the proof-of-insurance card, the policy limit will likely be included. Or, you call the at-fault driver in the days after the accident, and they may give you the information over the phone.
- Ask your carrier. If you have an open claim with your insurance company for the crash, ask your case manager if they can find out the other driver's policy limit. The case manager may have already requested the information, especially if you filed an uninsured motorist claim.
- Send a demand letter. If the insurance company refuses to tell you how much is available, you could send a demand letter to the insurer that offers to settle your case for the full policy limit, as long as the at-fault driver has no assets of his own that would cover the costs of your injury. We can determine whether this is a good option for your case.
- File a lawsuit. After we file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, the insurance company will be required to disclose the policy limits—and the entire contents of the policy—for use in court.
If you were injured in a Florida car wreck, our personal injury attorney Paul Cavonis, can advise you on your options and help you get the compensation you need to recover. Simply fill out the brief contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.