Understanding Your Auto Insurance

UNDERSTAND YOUR AUTO INSURANCE

Many people expect that they are fully covered when they request their insurance agent to purchase “full insurance” on their behalf.  It’s not until a catastrophe hits that the consumer realizes they did not get the insurance they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. “Full insurance” is defined by some insurance agents as the minimum insurance required by Florida Law; that means personal injury protection benefits and property damage coverage. Personal injury protection (PIP) covers the insured for 80% of their medical expenses and/or 60% of their lost wages as a result of a motor vehicle accident up to a maximum of $10,000.00. Some PIP policies have a $1,000.00 deductible, however we do NOT recommend that you save a few dollars by purchasing PIP coverage with a deductible.  Property damage coverage provides benefits to others who have had their property damaged as a result of a motor vehicle accident. It does not protect the insured’s own property.

You may ask what other coverage is available, and what type of insurance should I purchase? Medical payment coverage is an inexpensive way to pay for the 20% of the medical expenses that personal injury protection does not pay. In fact, you can purchase more than $2,000.00 of medical payment coverage. Collision, a popular coverage, affords benefits to repair or replace your vehicle.

Bodily injury, also known as liability coverage, is what most people think of when they talk about insurance coverage. Bodily injury affords benefits to people you may injure as a result of your negligence.

There are numerous ways to decide how much bodily injury coverage to purchase. An amount sufficient to protect your assets is the most common recommendation. At Steinberg & Linn, P.A., we recommend a minimum of $100,000.00 bodily injury coverage for those people who have no assets because no insurance company will allow you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage for an amount greater than the bodily injury coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you and your family members if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence. In our opinion, this is the most important coverage. Don’t trust other people to have insurance for you; make sure you buy enough insurance to protect your family should a catastrophe occur. If you have more than one vehicle on your policy definitely get stacking for your uninsured motorist coverage. Stacking means that your uninsured motorist limits will be multiplied by the number of vehicles on your policy.

When purchasing insurance, make sure your agent gives you a complete explanation of each coverage available. If you are having difficulty understanding a type of coverage, have the agent explain it in writing. Ask the agent for specific price quotes for higher coverage.  You will find that the vast majority of your premium is paid for the first $10,000.00 worth of coverage and that it is comparatively inexpensive to purchase $100,000.00 or even a million dollars of bodily injury coverage with uninsured motorist benefits.

We hope that you are fortunate enough not to need the insurance you purchase.

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What Jurors Aren’t Told

  1. The defendant has insurance. Florida is one of a few states that does not allow the jury to know that the defendant won’t have to pay a judgment against them out of their own pocket; the insurance company pays the plaintiff. In fact, the insurance company hired the attorney sitting at the defendant’s table.
  2. The doctor that saw the plaintiff one time, on behalf of the defendant, is paid by the insurance company. The defendant has the right to force the plaintiff to see a doctor of their (insurance company’s) choice. The insurance company usually picks the same doctors because they can rely on their opinions to be favorable to the defendant.
  3. The defendant does not have to pay any legal expenses. The insurance company provides the attorney and pays all the costs of litigation. Most of the time, the plaintiff does not get the entire judgment. In addition to paying any outstanding medical bills, the plaintiff usually has to reimburse his health insurance company. The plaintiff must also pay their attorney approximately 40% of any verdict rendered in their favor. While the plaintiff (or their attorney) must pay the legal costs, the court will usually reimburse the winning party the majority of these costs, paid by the losing party.
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Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney, Florida?

Are you in need of a medical malpractice attorney? Florida’s Steinberg and Linn expertly handles all types of medical malpractice claims on behalf of patients who have  been injured, disabled, sickened or killed because of a medical professional’s mistake. But are you sure you have a solid claim? That’s not always easy to answer without the legal expertise of a highly qualified medical malpractice attorney.

Florida caregivers make mistakes every day. But unless a medical provider’s mistake results in indisputable harm to a patient, it may not be considered medical malpractice. And, no physician can promise that results of your medical care will give you the results you want or expect. Not ever injury or illness can be fully healed or cured and people react differently to various medications and procedures. Medical providers make decisions based on the best available evidence and often must make those decisions quickly or without the ability to see the complete picture.

In our legal system, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff – which means your legal team will have to prove that you or your dependent have been harmed and that the harm is a direct result of medical negligence (either a mistake or a failure to act when medical attention was needed) and could have been prevented. Prosecutable injuries can include:

  • Surgical errors and post-surgical infections
  • Wrong diagnosis, inability to diagnose an illness or late diagnosis that resulted in death
  • Dental errors
  • Anesthesia-related issues
  • Birth injury as well as infant brain damage or death due to medical negligence during pre-natal, natal and post-natal period
  • Sub-standard care
  • Lack of “informed consent”
  • Violation of doctor-patient confidentiality

Medical malpractice claims often are tough to prove and can take months, even years to resolve. And you’ll need to act quickly. Statues of limitations on medical malpractice cases vary from state to state, but generally run for two years from the date that the injury is or should have been discovered. Longer discovery periods apply if the injured is a minor seven years old or younger.

Because these are the toughest – but most important – cases to build, you’ll need a strong medical malpractice attorney. Florida’s Steinberg and Linn attorney offer a combined 60 years of experience in successfully arguing medical negligence cases. Contact our Naples, Port Charlotte or Fort Meyers office to discuss your case today.

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Insurance Fraud: What Is It and How Do I Report It?

Information source: myfloridacfo.com

Each year, insurance fraud costs companies and consumers alike tens of billions of dollars. In order to better identify and reduce incidents of insurance fraud – and, most important, protect consumers – the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers the following tips for identifying and responding to insurance fraud.

What Is Insurance Fraud?

Insurance fraud occurs when an insurance company, agent, adjuster or consumer commits a deliberate deception in order to obtain an illegitimate gain. It can occur during the process of buying, using, selling or underwriting insurance.

What Types of Insurance Fraud Are There?

Fake insurance companies defraud consumers by collecting premiums for bogus policies with no intention of paying claims. These “companies” might offer policies at costs that are significantly lower than competitors’ prices or they might be difficult to reach by phone — if there is a listed phone number at all. Consumers should check in advance that they are dealing with a legitimate, licensed insurer before signing an application for a policy. Your state insurance department can provide licensing information for a company or agent. For a link to your state insurance department Web site, go to www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm.

Legitimate companies that are not licensed by the state to sell insurance might lead consumers to think they are selling “insurance” while evading state insurance regulations. A company selling a health discount plan might call the plan insurance when it is really an unregulated, non-insurance product. If you question whether a product you are offered is insurance, contact your state insurance department.

Individuals within the insurance industry have also deceived consumers for personal gain. For example, an unscrupulous insurance agent might collect premiums from a customer without passing them along to the company. The consumer believes that their premiums are being properly handled while the insurance company thinks the policyholder is not paying their premiums and, therefore, cancels or nonrenews the consumer’s policy. If you do not receive an insurance ID card or a copy of your policy in a timely manner, this could be an indication that your premiums have not been paid to your insurance company. If you have questions or concerns, contact your insurance company directly or call your state insurance department.

Consumers can also be guilty of insurance fraud. Deliberate attempts to stage an accident, injury, theft, arson or other type of loss that would be covered under an insurance policy; exaggerating a legitimate claim; and/or knowingly omitting or providing false information on an application for a policy are all examples of consumer insurance fraud.

How do I report a suspected incident of Insurance Fraud?

If you believe that you have been a victim of insurance fraud, or if you are aware of an instance of insurance fraud, it is important to:

  • Contact your state insurance department to file a complaint against the insurance company; and/or
  • Visit www.naic.org and complete the form provided by the Online Fraud Reporting System (OFRS). Through the OFRS, the NAIC and state regulators are encouraging consumers to take a proactive role in identifying and reporting insurance fraud. Not only does this minimize future instances of insurance fraud, but it also reduces unnecessary insurance costs.

Who Responds to Insurance Fraud?

Most states have special fraud bureaus – frequently housed within the department of insurance – to address the growing problem of insurance fraud. These bureaus take referrals and investigate cases regarding insurance fraud from various sources, such as law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and consumer complaints.

State insurance departments have recently sought to enhance their collection of information from consumers, insurance producers and employees of insurers concerning alleged violations of insurance laws and regulations. Consumers can contact their state insurance department if they have questions regarding possible fraudulent activity.

Stop. Call. Confirm.

If you are unsure about the insurance company or agent you are dealing with, STOP before signing any paperwork or writing a check; CALL your state insurance department – easily reached by phone; and CONFIRM the company or agent offering insurance is legitimate and licensed in the state.

For more information about auto, home, life and health insurance options, as well as tips for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your family, visit www.insureUonline.org.

– Florida CFO Alex Sink (myfloridacfo.com)

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