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Car Insurance Myths Debunked

We all hope that we never get into a Florida car accident. But if we do, we’ll probably hear a lot of incorrect information. That’s why our Gainesville car accident lawyers are debunking the most common myths about car accident claims and auto insurance.

Car Insurance Myth #1: Red cars cost more to insure.

A common belief is that red cars are more expensive to insure, but that is simply not true. Whether your car is red, black, or any other color, insurance companies do not consider that minor detail when determining your premium. Instead, they focus on other things like the type and age of your car, vehicle safety features, repair or replacement costs, your driving history, and where you live. Essentially, the insurance industry cares about one thing: the risk of you being involved in an accident or filing a claim, not the color of your car.

Car Insurance Myth #2: The older you are, the more it costs to insure your car.

Another common misconception is that older people pay more for insurance than younger drivers. However, this is typically not the case. Young drivers are often considered a safety risk due to their inexperience and lack of a driving record, resulting in higher insurance premiums than older drivers. Additionally, many insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who are married or have children, milestones that frequently occur later in life. Some providers may even have special offers for drivers over the age of 55.

Car Insurance Myth #3: Comprehensive insurance covers everything.

While comprehensive insurance offers a range of coverages, it doesn’t quite mean “everything.” This type of insurance policy covers non-collision damages to your car, including theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. However, it won’t cover damages resulting from a collision with another vehicle or damages you may cause to others. Those damages fall under collision and liability insurance.

Car Insurance Myth #4: My auto insurance company will pay for a rental car if my vehicle is damaged in an accident.

This may or may not be a myth because it depends on which type of insurance you have purchased. Your insurer may cover rental car costs after an accident only if you have rental reimbursement coverage as part of your policy. Most standard insurance packages do not include this coverage as it is typically an add-on.

If you have the minimum amount of insurance, rental car insurance will not be covered, and you will be responsible for the costs yourself. However, even with this coverage, you may be limited to how many days you can have the rental car paid for, and you might be subject to a maximum amount your insurer will pay. The defendant’s insurance company may provide rental car reimbursement or coverage if they accept liability.

Car Insurance Myth #5: Thieves prefer to steal new cars.

A common myth about stolen cars is thieves are only interested in stealing new, flashy cars. However, thieves may prefer cars that are older and more likely to blend in. They may also be interested in stealing cars for a temporary ride or “joyriding,” stripping the car of its parts for resale, or to re-sell the car.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s most recent annual “Hot Wheels” report, a motor vehicle is stolen every 32 seconds in the U.S. The ten most commonly stolen vehicles are the following:

  • 2004 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
  • 2006 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
  • 2000 Honda Civic
  • 1997 Honda Accord
  • 2013 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2017 Hyundai Elantra
  • 2015 Kia Optima
  • 2021 Toyota Camry
  • 2005 GMC Pickup (Full Size)
  • 2001 Honda CR-V

Car Insurance Myth #6: If other people drive your car, their insurance will cover them in the event of an auto accident.

If you’re going for a lengthy drive, you may be tempted to hand your keys over to a passenger to take your place, thinking their insurance will cover them if they get in a wreck. However, car insurance is designed to follow the car, not the driver. Should an accident occur, you’ll likely need to make a claim with your own insurance policy rather than the driver’s.

Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, insurance follows you in-state and out-of-state if you are driving your vehicle. Your insurance would cover someone driving your car with your permission, although it might be prorated by the driver’s own insurance.

Car Insurance Myth #7: Personal auto insurance covers both personal and business use of your car.

Some people may be surprised to find out that their insurer may deny their claim if they were working at the time of the accident. This could mean that you may not be covered in an accident by your personal auto insurance, if, at the time, you were working:

  • For Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare program
  • For Uber Eats, Bite Squad, Grubhub, PostMates, or another food delivery service
  • For Instacart or another grocery delivering service
  • For other gig jobs
  • In self-employment
  • For your boss to get supplies or run another work-related errand

You might need a commercial insurance policy to cover accidents that occur while you are working.

Car Insurance Myth #8: Your insurance will cover you if your car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by falling tree limbs, hail, flood, or fire.

This depends on the type of insurance you have. Collision insurance covers physical damage to your vehicle that occurs in an accident with another vehicle or fixed object, regardless of fault. Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, covers damage caused by theft, vandalism, fire, falling objects, and natural disasters.

Car Insurance Myth #9: Your credit score does not affect your auto insurance rate.

Insurance companies use statistical data and actuaries to determine the potential risk of insuring a person against a covered loss. One of the ways they can quantify risk level is by seeing how you have acted in the past, such as by checking your credit. A credit score may indicate how reliable and responsible a person is. A higher score could mean a lower rate, while a lower score could result in a higher premium.

Car Insurance Myth #10: If my vehicle is totaled, my car insurance will pay off what I owe on my loan or lease.

In most cases, the insurance company will only pay off the replacement cost if a covered vehicle is totaled. This is often less than the amount owed on the loan or lease. However, gap insurance does pay for any difference between the vehicle’s fair market value and the loan amount, if you happen to have it. Additionally, some auto insurers have programs in which they promise to pay off an existing loan or purchase a newer model car.

Car Insurance Myth #11: No-fault insurance means you can never sue the at-fault driver.

Florida currently uses a no-fault system for auto insurance. This means that drivers turn to their own auto insurer for coverage of their accident-related medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault. However, this insurance only covers up to a maximum of 80 percent of your medical expenses, subject to a max of $10,000, death benefits up to $5,000, and up to 60 percent of your accident-related lost wages, subject to a maximum of $10,000. This is according to Florida Statute 627.736 which addresses personal injury protection benefits.

However, Florida Statute 627.737 states that a car accident victim can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver if they suffered a permanent injury in the accident. Filing a claim against the negligent driver may allow you to seek the full amount of compensation for the accident, including:

  • The full amount of the medical expenses and lost wages you incurred
  • Future anticipated medical expenses
  • Anticipated impaired earning capacity
  • Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional anguish and distress

Even without a permanent injury, the other driver is still liable for medical bills and lost wages that are not covered by your PIP insurance.

Car Insurance Myth #12: Getting a ticket will increase the cost of insurance.

Many Florida drivers may believe that a traffic ticket will immediately raise their insurance costs; however, this isn’t always true. In reality, not all tickets impact your insurance the same way. The type of ticket you receive matters significantly.

For instance, a minor parking violation or other non-moving violation won’t usually impact the cost of your car insurance. On the other hand, a speeding ticket or a citation for reckless driving could push your premiums upward.

Insurance companies usually look at your overall driving history, so one ticket on an otherwise clean record might not lead to a rate increase. Keep in mind that every insurance company is different when it comes to their terms and conditions. It’s important to check your policy to learn what types of traffic tickets can or will impact your car insurance rates.

Car Insurance Myth #13: New cars cost more to insure.

It’s common to assume that new vehicles come with hefty insurance price tags, but the relationship between a car’s age and its insurance cost is influenced by other factors.

New cars can be more expensive to replace or repair, which might raise insurance premiums. However, they often feature advanced safety features and technologies that may lower the risk of accidents or theft, potentially reducing insurance costs. In addition, some insurers offer discounts for new or recently manufactured vehicles.

While a car’s age can influence insurance premiums, it’s one piece of a larger puzzle. Several things, like the model, make, driver’s history, and additional safety features, are also taken into consideration when determining the overall insurance cost.

Car Insurance Myth #14: You can negotiate premiums.

Unfortunately, insurance premiums are not typically something you can negotiate. Insurance companies use specific algorithms and calculations to determine your premium. They consider factors like your driving history, vehicle type, and more.

That being said, there are indirect ways to potentially lower your costs. These may include adjusting your coverage, raising your deductible, or taking advantage of discounts offered by the insurer.

Discounts can be offered for things like safe driving, bundling policies, or using anti-theft devices. Exploring and understanding the options, discounts, and adjustments in your policy will allow you to optimize your premium to fit your needs.

Contact Our Experienced Gainesville Car Accident Attorneys Today

If you were injured in a car accident in Gainesville, let Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. seek the justice and financial accountability you deserve. A Gainesville car accident attorney from our firm can meet with you to discuss your legal rights and options during a free case review.

When you hire us, you work with a car accident lawyer in Gainesville from start to finish. Unlike other firms in the area, we’re not mere figureheads who get your business and then hand you off to a less experienced associate. We are all trial-tested lawyers who have delivered results for our clients. Contact us today to get started and learn more about how we can help.

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Does Car Insurance Cover a Stolen Vehicle?

The sinking feeling of finding your car missing from its parking spot is a nightmare none of us wish to experience. Yet, the reality is, vehicle theft is more common than you might think. In fact, in 2021, 936,315 vehicles were reported stolen across the U.S., a 17 percent increase compared to 2019.

Car theft is not only an upsetting experience, but it can negatively impact the victim’s finances. So, will your car insurance cover your stolen vehicle? If you have comprehensive coverage, then yes. However, if you do not have comprehensive coverage, you’ll most likely be responsible for the costs on your own.

What to Do if Your Car Was Stolen?

If you’ve discovered your vehicle has been stolen, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. While emotions might run high, it’s crucial to act quickly and follow the steps below:

  • Call the police: Immediately report the theft to your local authorities. This will officially document the case and will be necessary when filing a claim with your insurance company. Be sure to have basic information for the police such as the make and model, plate number, and the VIN (vehicle identification number) if you have it.
  • Call your insurance company: Notify your insurer of the theft and provide them with the details and documentation you have gathered. They’ll be able to guide you through the claims process and answer any questions you may have regarding coverage. If you think personal items were left in the car, it may be necessary to call your homeowners or renters insurance company as well.
  • Report your car stolen to your local DMV: The Department of Motor Vehicles keeps a database of stolen cars. They’ll work with the police to have your car returned to you if it is recovered.

By making these calls as soon as possible after you’ve discovered the theft, you’ll improve the odds that your car is found and that your insurance claim is processed quickly.

Will Insurance Pay for My Rental Car If My Vehicle Is Stolen?

When your car is stolen, an immediate concern may be getting temporary transportation. Whether or not your insurance will cover the rental vehicle will depend on the insurance policy you have.

If you have rental reimbursement coverage on your insurance policy, your rental car will be covered. Rental reimbursement is an optional add-on that pays for your rental car up to a daily limit for a set period while your stolen vehicle is missing.

However, not all policies include this type of coverage, and comprehensive coverage will only cover the theft itself. It’s important to check your specific policy details or talk to your insurance agent about whether or not your coverage extends to car rentals.

How does an insurance company determine the value of a stolen vehicle?

If your car gets stolen, your insurance company will pay you an amount based on the depreciated value of your car at the time of theft. This amount is called the Actual Cash Value (ACV). The ACV is determined by the replacement cost of your vehicle minus depreciation, which considers things like vehicle age, mileage, condition, and more.

For example, if you have a vehicle that is several years old, and its depreciated value is $10,000, your insurer would give you a check for that amount minus your deductible to help you replace your stolen vehicle. So, if you have a deductible of $500, you would get a check for $9,500, assuming your claim is covered.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?

Comprehensive insurance covers theft or damage to your car not caused by another vehicle. This coverage includes damages from weather events like storms or floods, animals, or vandalism. If someone steals your car or parts of it, or if they break a window trying to get in, comprehensive insurance has you covered.

In cases where you’re leasing or paying off your car, your insurer will most likely require you to have this type of insurance. On the other hand, if you own your car, this coverage will most likely be optional.

Does Full Coverage Car Insurance Cover Theft of Personal Items?

Finding personal belongings like laptops, cell phones, or briefcases missing from your car can be unsettling. Many might assume that if they have “full coverage” car insurance, it will compensate for these stolen items. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Generally, car insurance will not cover the loss of personal items, but there is still hope. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, these policies may cover personal items stolen from your car. This might apply even if your car was not on your property; however, it’s important to check your policy for details.

Additionally, insurance for electronic devices, like cell phones or laptops, often cover for theft as well. While your car insurance won’t cover for theft of these items, other options could help provide you with the support you need.

Are Vehicle Upgrades Covered?

Many individuals, car enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike, spend a considerable amount of money to upgrade their vehicles. But will insurance cover aftermarket, custom parts, or modifications in the event of theft? Typically, your insurance policy will not cover vehicle upgrades unless you have custom parts and equipment (CPE) coverage.

Check with your insurance company to see if this is an add-on coverage they offer or if they have an alternative that may help in the event of a theft.

Does Car Insurance Cover a Stolen Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is designed to reduce harmful emissions and has been a mandatory part for all gas-powered cars since 1975. Due to the valuable metal components of this part, catalytic converters have also become a prime target for thieves.

Fortunately, comprehensive car insurance includes theft of parts. Therefore, if your catalytic converter is stolen, your comprehensive coverage will help with pay for repairs or a replacement.

How to Prevent Car Theft

In 2021-2022, Florida ranked fourth among the states with the highest number of motor vehicle thefts. Although car thefts are common, you can take proactive steps to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. These steps include:

  1. Always Lock Your Vehicle: Make sure that your car is locked whenever it is unattended, even if it’s in your driveway or garage.
  2. Install an Anti-Theft System: Consider installing an alarm system to deter thieves.
  3. Use a Steering Wheel Lock: Using a steering wheel lock can make your vehicle a less appealing target.
  4. Park in Well-Lit Areas: Choose to park in areas that are well-lit and populated whenever possible.
  5. Secure Windows and Sunroofs: Always make sure that all windows and sunroofs are closed and secured when leaving your vehicle unattended.
  6. Hide Valuables: Keep valuables out of sight to avoid drawing attention to your vehicle.
  7. Utilize a Tracking System: Implement a GPS tracking system to locate your vehicle in the event of a theft.
  8. Be Mindful of Your Keys: Never leave your keys in the ignition and properly store them when not in use. Additionally, do not hide a second pair of keys in or around your vehicle.
  9. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): Etch the VIN on windows and other parts to make it harder for thieves to sell the vehicle or its parts.
  10. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about local crime trends and be extra vigilant in areas where vehicle theft is prevalent.

By taking the right precautions, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of motor vehicle theft.

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