By Marcus Fernandez
Summer has officially arrived, and you’re ready to hit the road for a well-earned vacation. Prepare yourself, your vehicle, and car insurance for out-of-state travel if your vacation involves driving. You can do so by reading this summer safety road trip guide.
Before packing your bags and loading up the car, there are some essential things you need to know to stay safe. From what you need to know about car insurance needs when traveling out of state, to safe-driving tips proven to reduce the chance of being in an accident, the information in this article helps prepare you for a carefree vacation.
Car insurance basics you should know
Car insurance, often forgotten until claims or disputes arise, is crucial for financial protection and peace of mind. If you’re going on vacation, you should know the difference between fault- and no-fault insurance laws.
Some states have no-fault insurance laws. These limit the ability of people injured in car accidents to file lawsuits against the drivers for causing them. Instead, drivers and their passengers who sustain injuries in a motor vehicle accident file a claim with their own car insurance company to recover their medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who was at fault in causing the crash.
Florida is a no-fault state, along with the following states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
The no-fault insurance coverage in Florida is personal injury protection or PIP. You must have PIP coverage of at least $10,000 to register a car in the Sunshine State.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, instead of filing a lawsuit against another driver or a claim against their auto liability policy, you submit a claim under the PIP coverage of the PIP coverage on your car. Florida PIP pays 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of lost wages up to the coverage limits of your policy. State law requires that you have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage.
Given that hospital and physician costs for treatment when injured in a car accident can easily exceed the $10,000 minimum coverage required by the state, you may wish to talk to your insurance agent about purchasing additional coverage. If you do not purchase additional coverage, your Tampa personal injury attorney may file a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist. This will allow you to recover damages that exceed the PIP coverage.
State insurance law in Florida exempts nonresidents from the PIP insurance requirement unless they own a vehicle that is present within the state for 90 days, are employed in the state, or have children enrolled in a public school in the state. If you are involved in a crash in Florida, you may be covered by the PIP coverage as the passenger or driver of a vehicle registered and insured in the state. For example, if you borrow the car of a friend who lives in and has a vehicle registered in the Sunshine State and are in an accident, you would be covered under the vehicle’s PIP coverage.
The states that do not have no-fault insurance laws are called “fault states”. In these states, you need to prove that someone else was at fault for causing an accident to recover compensation for injuries. Fault states generally require that drivers have an auto policy with liability coverage to pay claims made against them for personal injuries and property damage in accidents they cause.
As a Florida resident on vacation in another state, the insurance company that issued the policy on your car will cover you up to the minimum insurance coverage required by that state’s insurance laws. If you have an accident in a no-fault state, the PIP coverage of your policy applies. However, if the accident is in a fault state, you must make a claim against the at-fault driver and their liability insurance company.
What to do in case of an accident?
If you have an accident while driving in Florida or another state, take the following steps to protect your rights:
- Check yourself and the passengers in your vehicle for injuries.
- Call 911 to request police and emergency medical assistance.
- Take photos of the accident scene and obtain the names and contact information of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Get immediate medical attention for your injuries.
- Contact your insurance company to report the accident.
- Contact a Tampa personal injury attorney.
In a crash, stay calm and seek medical help for any injuries, no matter how minor.
Safe driving tips for summer, whether at home or on vacation
Summertime means more cars on the road, and that means more accidents. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports increased crashes, deaths, and bodily injuries during the summer months. Learn more about summer road trip safety with these suggestions to minimize accidents and mishaps.
- Have your car checked and serviced before you leave to ensure the brakes, tires, air conditioning, and other systems are ready for the miles ahead.
- Buckle up and ensure everyone in your vehicle fastens their seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. Children should be in age-appropriate booster seats or car seats.
- Stay alert and avoid distractions while driving, including cell phones, conversations with passengers, adjusting entertainment or navigation systems, or engaging in any activity that takes your eyes or mental focus away from the task of driving.
- Do not drive while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs. Ask your doctors or pharmacist about the effect of prescription medications on your ability to drive.
- Map out your route and use a navigation device to reach your destination.
- Avoid speeding, aggressive driving, and other violations of the traffic laws.
Remember that you are on vacation, so take your time, relax, and enjoy the trip.