Do I Need a Florida FR-44 Or SR-22 If I Got a DUI?

Let me first start by defining what a Florida FR-44 and SR-22 are and then we can decide which one you really need. If you got a DUI in the state of Florida most likely you need to file either an FR-44 or SR-22.

An SR-22 is a form used by insurance companies to ensure the driver is meeting state liability limits. Florida auto insurance companies submit this form electronically to Florida’s Bureau of Financial Responsibility for those drivers that are mandated to submit this proof of insurance. The state requires you to carry minimum liability limits of $10k in bodily injury per person and $10k in property damage. Drivers who are required to carry an SR-22 generally pay more due to the nature of the traffic violation. In addition to the extra premium for the offense you will also pay a $15 filing fee to submit the SR-22.

The state of Florida may also require you to file an FR-44 which is similar to an SR-22 only it has higher minimum liability requirements. The minimum liability requirements are ten times that of the states minimum requirements at $100k per person and $50k property damage. The cost to file the FR-44 is $15 just like the SR-22 but your overall cost to get insured will increase due to the nature of the traffic violation and the increased liability limits. This form is referred to as Florida Uniform Financial Responsibility Certificate FR-44 or just FR-44 for short. You must maintain this filing for three years but there are no driving restrictions associated with the FR-44.

Now that we understand what each type of form is and the requirements each possess let’s look at which one you need if you are convicted of a DUI in Florida. Effective October 1, 2007 Florida Statutes increased the required liability insurance for bodily injury in those circumstances where a person has been convicted of driving under the influence. Basically if you have been convicted of a DUI after such stated date you will need to file an FR-44 Form instead of an SR-22. The only difference between the two forms is if you were convicted of a DUI in the state of Florida it now requires higher liability limits on your auto policy.

Driving And Renting A Car In Costa Rica – 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions

Driving in Costa Rica is not for everyone.  So make sure you know what you’re getting into before getting behind the wheel of a car in Costa Rica.  The following are the 7 most frequently asked questions about driving in Costa Rica.  These questions come in from my popular podcast about Costa Rica from folks from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

1. What type of cars are available for rent?

Renting a car in Costa Rica is more expensive than in the U.S. so most people rent the smaller more compact cars that are a little cheaper.

Prices vary and during the high season you will pay more.  Around $20 or more per day.  Renting during Christmas/New Years will add another $50 or more per week.  I looked at five car rental company cars in Costa Rica and the average for renting a small car like a Toyota Yaris will cost around $205 per week. Please note this doesn’t include the required by law insurance which will add at least $10-20 per day.  So you’re looking at $250-300 to rent a small car per week.

You will find all the major car rental agencies in Costa Rica such as Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Budget, and others.

2. Is driving a good idea?

It depends.  Driving in Costa Rica compared to other countries can be a very scary proposition for most.  Costa Rica has one of the highest vehicle accident rates in the world.  Traffic laws and speed limits are often ignored.  Crazy and illegal turns across lanes of traffic are common.  Turn signals are rarely used and dangerous passing is common.  So you might driving on your lane when all of a sudden here comes a car in your lane going the wrong way because they’re passing on a blind spot.  The roads are in poor condition, and large potholes which could cause serious damage to your car is common.

Although the road conditions in the beach areas are worse the actual driving isn’t as scary since there is less traffic and since the roads aren’t the best people tend to drive a little slower.

I like to have my own transportation so renting a car is something I like to do but it all depends on your comfort level.  I’ve had friends and family who had never driven outside of the U.S. they found driving to be scary but a fun adventure.  So just take it easy and slow and you will be fine.  Don’t worry about the other drivers, just do your thing.

3. Do I need car rental insurance?

By law you will need the INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros) liability insurance regardless of your own car insurance coverage or credit card coverage.  The insurance required by law is known as TPL, SLI, SLC or API.  The cost ranges from $10-20 USD per day depending on the vehicle.  This insurance only covers damages to other people, cars, or property.  You will need to buy supplemental coverage to cover damages to the rental car or yourself.  However your own car insurance policy or credit card might cover that so call your insurance agent at home before leaving for Costa Rica and ask him or her if your insurance policy covers you for damages in Costa Rica.  You might also want to call your credit card issuer and ask them the same question.  If your own policy covers you in Costa Rica you’re set and you don’t need the supplemental coverage.  If they do not cover you, then I suggest taking out a supplemental policy offered by car rental agencies.

Optional-CDW or LDW – collision damage waiver which covers the cost of the car’s deductible amount which varies depending on the type of car and agency.  The cost will range between $10-20 USD per day.

Optional-Zero Liability – This will reduce your liability to zero against theft and vandalism, for example, the cost for this insurance is between $5-20 USD per day depending on the agency and car.

As you can see the supplemental insurance cost can add up fast so it’s important that you check with your insurance agent and your credit card company since you might not even need the optional/supplemental coverage.

If your insurance agent gives you the thumbs up do me a favor and get it in writing!  You don’t want any surprises.

4. What are car rental requirements in Costa Rica?

Requirements may vary depending on the car agency you use so check with them.  Most require a valid driver’s license (one from your home state or country is fine), a valid passport with your entry stamp, the Costa Rica mandated liability insurance, and you must be at least 21 years of age.

5. Is it safe to drive at night?

The problem driving at night is not crime, it’s just the unsafe driving and poor road conditions which are compounded even worse when you have poor visibility.  The roads are not lit up well and it gets pitch dark after 6:00 PM making it unsafe to drive for an inexperienced driver.

6. What are road conditions like?

The road conditions are very poor compared to the super highways of the United States or the Autobahn in Germany.  Drivers have to contend with unsafe driving habits of motorists, huge potholes, and even the highway is a two-lane road.  The roads get worse during the rainy season since road washouts from the mudslides from the mountains are common.

7. What side of the road do they drive on in Costa Rica?

On the right hand side, like in the U.S. and Canada.

One final tip

Make a copy of the profile page of your passport and your entry stamp and carry that with you along with your car rental papers.  You might get stopped by police and you will need to show this to them.  Do no carry your passport with you just make copies.  The Costa Rican government now allows you to carry copies instead of your actual passport.

Claims Settlement Record of Private Insurance Companies

As we know, there are 20 odd private life insurance companies in India, and there is LIC which is a public sector company. LIC is the 800 pound gorilla, managing to hold on to about 75% market share even 10 years after private companies have been allowed into the life insurance space. The private life companies position themselves on being more customer friendly, wider array of products etc while LIC holds on to its positioning of trust, experience and government backing. One of the key parameters on which to judge a life insurance company is their claims payment record. At the same time, we must note that given that life has become more of a savings and investment product, the returns that they provide are perhaps more important than claims payout ratios. Nevertheless, claims record is definitely not a variable to be ignored. A table illustrating the claims rejection percentages of the top life insurance companies in 2009-10 is presented below:

Life Companies: Claims rejection ratio (%)

LIC: 1.21%

Aviva: 9.75%

Bajaj Allianz: 5.2%

Birla SunLife: 10.62%

HDFC Life: 4.67%

ICICI Prudential: 3.27%

ING Vysya: 4.26%

Kotak Mahindra:4.29%

Max New York Life:12.31%

MetLife: 5.94%

Reliance Life:7.05%

SBI Life:14.75%

Tata AIG: 12.3%

An important observation from the above table is that the claims rejection ratio of LIC is the lowest, thus implying that their record is the best as far as claims payment is concerned. At the same time, the very high percentage of claims rejection of SBI Life and Max New York Life surely comes in as a surprise.

It must however be noted once again that in Unit Linked products that life organisations promote aggressively (or at least was promoting till Sep 2010), the returns earned on the fund is perhaps a more important variable than the claims payment (or rejection) ratio. However, for non life companies, which offer pure protection/insurance products with no savings or investment component, claims payment is the crucial variable along with the speed of processing of claims.

Let us now look at the incurred claims ratios of the non-life companies:

Non-Life Insurance Company: Incurred claims ratio

New India Assurance: 89%

Oriental Insurance: 99.69%

United India Insurance: 78.62%

National Insurance: 99.16%

Royal Sundaram: 68.95%

Reliance General Insurance:77.3%

Iffco Tokio Insurance:83.44%

Tata AIG: 60.54%

ICICI Lombard: 85.35%

Bajaj Allianz:71.9%

HDFC Ergo: 80.73%

Bharti Axa:104%%

One data point that stands out from above is that Tata AIG General Insurance seems to be sourcing the best quality business from the underwriting point of view, whereas the claims payment ratio of Bharti Axa seems to be quite high. Alo,the claims payment ratio of the public insurers, at an overall level, is higher than that of the private non life insurers.

Backseat Drivers Cause Distractions, Accidents!

According to a recent survey by an independent insurance company, 66 percent of motorists, as a result of unwelcome attention from back seat drivers, have been involved in traffic collisions. This type of distraction is quite common and has led to car accidents for nearly 25 percent of drivers – which ultimately drives up auto insurance costs.

The survey indicated that more than two-thirds of women and 70 percent of drivers over the age of 55 have been involved in a collision due to distractions attributed to passengers within their vehicles.

Teachers ranked high among preferred passengers

Teachers have been named among the most patient of passengers. Most drivers surveyed said that they prefer to drive with work colleagues rather than parents or domestic partners who tend to be the more disruptive among back seat passengers.

That research highlights The Having passengers in the car can distract drivers from the road and lead to road traffic accidents, Which in turn have an effect on car insurance policies and can result in personal injury compensation claims being made. This generally results in a rise in premium costs as well.

Findings Suggests That The color : as : many color : as one 's million accidents and a near misses have occurred when a passenger makes unsolicited suggestions or Gives unwanted advice. In not keeping their opinions to themselves, passengers are also instigating a large number of drivers (nearly 1.7 million) to engage in reckless behavior, including:

1. Speeding

2. Switching lanes suddenly and

3. Braking unnecessarily

Research also found that 60 percent of backseat drivers genuinely believe they are being helpful when they offer instructions, while almost a fifth claim they only speak up because they fear for their own safety.

The most common backseat driver behaviors include: volunteering unwanted directions, inopportune panicked gasping, and constantly checking the speedometer.

Aside from a lack of concentration that drivers suffer from when provoked, almost a third of motorists get stressed and annoyed by their passengers who generally are attempting to be helpful. Women, generally more easily irritated, will often actually stop the vehicle after becoming upset from backseat criticisms.

Domestic partners top list of driving irritants

Domestic partners take the blame for being the worst culprits, criticizing from the backseat or passenger seat, with over half of those questioned describing their other halves as 'backseat drivers.' Unsurprisingly, more than half of all motorists think they are a better driver when they are alone in the car as they are able to give driving their full attention.

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage on My Auto Policy If I Have Medicare Or Health Insurance?

This is a very common question that we encounter in our practice. I’ve even heard of insurance agents who expressed the opinion that people do not need uninsured motorist coverage on their auto policy if they have health insurance or Medicare. The reasoning seems to be that following an accident their medical bills would be covered. Unfortunately, this reasoning fails to take into consideration all of the other benefits available from uninsured motorist coverage to someone who’s been seriously injured in an auto accident or to the estate of someone who has been killed.

The purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to compensate the insured for all of the elements of damage they would have been entitled to receive from the person causing the accident, but who carried no bodily injury insurance, or very low limits of coverage. In Florida, those damages would include: pain, suffering, disability, scarring, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of the enjoyment of life, lost earnings and earning capacity, as well as unpaid medical expenses incurred in the past, and those to be incurred in the future. Of this list of damage items, the only ones which would be covered by health insurance or Medicare would be “covered” medical expenses. Beyond having their medical expenses paid, someone carrying no uninsured motorist coverage, who was struck by an uninsured driver, would receive no compensation for all of the other elements of damage described above.

No one ever believes they will be involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. But every day throughout the state of Florida, hundreds of people are seriously injured who also believed it would never happen to them. Following a serious accident, the injured person will immediately begin to consider, who will compensate them for the substantial losses they have incurred and those which will be incurred in the future. Losses such as pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, as well as loss of earning capacity and earnings are very commonly encountered in relatively routine motor vehicle accidents. In the more serious accidents, all of these losses may be incurred, particularly those which involved the death of a loved one. People naturally become angry and frustrated when they have been struck by an uninsured driver, only to discover their own policy of insurance does not include uninsured motorist coverage.

There is something else to consider about carrying only Medicare or health insurance. If there is any liability coverage available to provide compensation of one’s injuries, even though it may be woefully inadequate, Medicare and virtually all health insurance policies, have reimbursement rights. Federal statutes require reimbursement of benefits provided by Medicare and employer sponsored health insurance plans when the injured person receives compensation for their injuries. Most other health plans contain reimbursement rights which are regulated under state law, including Florida. This means that when someone’s health insurance or Medicare provides benefits to them following an accident, those benefits are subject to being paid back if the injured person is successful in getting even minimal compensation from the party responsible.

Therefore, the only way someone may protect themselves is to carry the maximum amount of uninsured motorist coverage they can afford. We urge our clients to examine their declaration sheet on their auto policy, determine what coverage they actually have purchased, and call their agent to get a quote for uninsured motorist or additional uninsured motorist coverage.

Ohio SR22 Bond FAQ’s: Things You MUST Be Aware of Before Buying

Q: What is an SR22 bond and how is it different from regular car insurance

A: If you are considering taking out an Ohio Sr22 Bond, you first need to understand the difference between an SR22 Bond and a regular auto insurance policy. An SR22 Bond is a guarantee that a driver has the state minimum liability coverage. The bond only pays out if the named driver is at fault in an accident and either causes bodily injury or property damage to the other driver or their vehicle. The bond does NOT cover the insured or their vehicle at all. If you want coverage on your own vehicle, or medical coverage on yourself and your passengers, this bond will not work for you. Instead, you should take out a regular auto insurance policy (and if the Ohio BMV requires you to file this bond, it can easily be attached to a regular car insurance policy).

Q: What are the state minimum limits in Ohio?

A: If you’re at fault in an accident and you injure someone, the SR22 bond will pay up to $12,500 per person for injuries, up to $25,000 total. Also, if the accident causes damage to the other vehicle, it will pay up to $7500 for property damage. Therefore, the most this bond will ever pay from a single accident is $32,500. If the damages you caused exceed the policy limits, you may be held responsible for the remainder of the damage.

Q: Does it make sense for someone who does not require a state filing to buy an SR22 bond in lieu of traditional auto insurance?

A: Yes, but only if all 3 of the following apply:

1. You want no more coverage on any vehicle you drive other than the state minimum liability.

2. You assume all risk as far as injury to yourself and passengers and you also assume all risk if there is damage to your car.

3. Traditional insurance will cover your vehicle driven by another driver should you loan your vehicle to them. An SR22 Bond does NOT cover anyone for liability but YOU. As long as you understand these 3 things and the risks associated, then an SR22 bond might be the right option.

Q: What are the advantages of buying a bond instead of regular car insurance?

A: If a driver is only interested in buying the absolute state minimum coverage on theirself and want no coverage on their vehicle or anyone else, then an SR22 bond is significantly cheaper than traditional insurance.

Q: What happens if I am late on a payment?

A: With most companies, you will most likely have to pay a late fee, but as long as you are not more than 10 days late, you will be fine. If you go beyond 10 days late (or 2 weeks with some companies), your policy will lapse. WARNING! Although all of my companies do allow this grace period, some companies do NOT! Some companies will cancel the bond if payment is one day late. Be sure to check with your agent about your bond.

Q: What happens if I let the bond lapse?

A: If you required a state filing by the Ohio BMV, then the company is obligated to notify the Ohio BMV that your policy has cancelled. This will result in your license being suspended again, and you may have to start the license reinstatement process again. In addition, you will probably have to pay a late fee and reinstatement fee on top of your payment in order to reinstate the bond.

Q: How long will the Ohio BMV require me to carry a state filing?

A: That depends on the severity of the law you violated that triggered a filing requirement in the fist place. But generally, requirements are usually in the range of 3-5 years.

Q: Will this bond expire when I am no longer required to carry a state filing?

A: No! In fact, the state filings will not cease until you notify the agent or company that the state filing is no longer required. This is important because there are additional fees associated with a state filing requirement. I have seen people who have needlessly paid additional state filing fees for long periods of time simply because they never requested the filings to stop. The BMV will tell you how long you need to continue filing. Be sure to keep the expiration date in mind.

Q: How long does it take for me to be covered on an SR22 bond?

A: In many cases it only takes minutes to be covered.

Q: How long does it take for the BMV to process my bond?

A: Generally, one business day. Of course, we can print your paperwork right away and email/fax it to you. To save time, you may take the paperwork to the BMV personally if you wish to speed things up.

Q: Once I pay for my SR22 bond, is my license automatically reinstated?

A: Usually No! In many cases, the Ohio BMV requires you to also pay a license reinstatement fee. In either case, I would highly recommend contacting the BMV before resuming driving. Only the BMV can officially tell you that your license is once again valid. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Florida PIP Confusion

The drivers of the state of Florida right now are so confused and rightfully so. There has been a bitter fight, insurance company and insurance company vs. insurance company and medical professionals vs. medical professionals and Lawyers vs. Lawyer and insurance company… and verses and verses. All this, while the poor driving public of Florida is caught in the middle and is helpless and most clueless of what is happening.

To start lets find out just what the heck is PIP.

The Basics

First states are generally broken up into two categories, Tort States and PIP States. If you live in a Tort state things are a bit less complicated and easier to understand. In a nutshell if you are in a car accident and you are “At Fault” then you are responsible for the injuries of others. You will be sued for all, injuries to the other drivers, passengers and any property damage that you caused.

In a tort state it is absolutely necessary that you have liability insurance to pay for such damages and most states have a requirement of minimum liability such as 25/50/25. To translate that is $25,000 for Bodily Injury you do to one person in and accident, $50,000 Total per accident for Bodily Injury and $25,000 for Property Damage.

PIP States, out of fifty states at one time there was 38 states that were PIP States, today there are 12 er no, 11 er no effective January 1, when Florida “re-becomes” a PIP State 12 again.

What is PIP

Frankly, PIP is a lot more complicated than a tort. Why? First each state employs a different degree of PIP. In order to explain PIP we need to explain “PURE PIP”, which no state employs.

In a “Pure PIP” environment in any accident each person would take care of ALL their own injuries and a law suit against the other party would be prohibited by law. Hence, PIP is also known as “No Fault”. Theoretically each person would buy their own policy to pay for their injuries instead of suing the AT FAULT person. Hmmm, no lawsuits, you can imagine how attorneys would feel about that. That is just one drawback; the second is how much coverage each person should have under a “PURE PIP” environment. Because of this the remaining handful of PIP states have varying degrees of PIP.

Florida PIP

In 1971 Florida legislators passed the PIP law and no longer was it mandatory to secure liability insurance but at that time only one coverage was necessary to register your vehicle. PIP.

The Florida version of PIP every citizen of the state of Florida would buy this coverage and have a “bag of money” of $10,000 to take care of themselves for injuries resulting from “any” auto accident. Your coverage will pay no matter who was at fault.

The problems with this law were immediate. First it contradicted the Florida responsibility law which in short states that when a driver is involved in an accident that involves bodily injury or property damages to an extent that an auto is disabled you must prove you have liability limits of 10/20/10 or $30,000 of combined liability.

The second problem was the law did not address any “Property Damage” done by the at fault driver. That was remedied a few years after with the addition of $10,000 of mandatory property damage liability being added to the requirements to register your car.

Another problem was that of “Tort Immunity” or “Tort Exemption”. The problem, no one really understood it.

Tort What?

“Tort Immunity” also known as “Tort Exemption” is what PIP is all about. If you recall under “PURE PIP” you may not sue the at fault party, that is Tort Immunity. As we also mentioned each state has varying degrees of PIP and also varying degrees of “Tort Immunity” In order vary the tort immunity each state must define the limit of the immunity. States have either a Financial “Threshold” or Verbal “Threshold”. For example a person may not sue the other at fault person until their medical bills exceed $50,000, this would be a example of a Financial or Dollar Threshold.

Florida has a “Verbal Threshold” although each person is responsible for the first $10,000 of their own injuries regardless who is at fault, you can sue the “At Fault” driver for any economic damages you incur over the first $10,000 but, you will NOT be able to sue for any “non economic” injuries (such as Pain and Suffering) unless you “pierce” a threshold and this is Florida’s extent of “Tort Immunity”

What were the problems with PIP?

The spirit of PIP was quite noble, instead of suing everyone for small accidents the PIP coverage would cover “most” medical expenses, loss of work and even some household chores you were not able to do because of the accident. Thus there would be a reduction in lawsuits.

Well, although noble the law almost immediately added an new level of litigation and/or negotiation, that is determining whether a threshold had been crossed. The Florida verbal thresholds are : 1. Loss of a bodily function 2. Permanent injury 3. “Significant” scaring and 4. Death.

Death is the easiest threshold to determine, if a person is still breathing then obviously the threshold has not been crossed and the person can not sue for “non economic” injuries such as pain and suffering. But the other thresholds such as: Significant scaring may be harder to interpret. So much having fewer lawsuits.

I want you to think of the last time you were driving and drove by an auto accident. How many folks did you see in each car or van? At least 2, 6, 10 ? What ever the number multiply that number by $10,000.

The problem became “Fraud”. No matter how little the injury unethical medical practitioners bilked the companies. Artificially increased bills paid by insurance were ultimately passed on to us, insureds.

Florida’s Flip Flop

On October 1, 2007 Florida’s long suffering PIP law was laid to rest with many insurance companies bidding it a happy farewell only to be resurrected a few days latter at the behest of Florida’s governor.

Currently, as of today October 14, 2007 there is no PIP law in effect , no $10,000 bag of money to cover your medical expenses, no tort immunity actually not much of any kind of mandatory coverage until January 1, 2008 when PIP will be reinstated.

Many companies had scrambled to add a “Non Statutory” PIP to give everyone $10,000 benefits and we recommend at least that with at least $2,000 of Medical Payments and uninsured motorist.

Now would be a good time to contact your agent and review your coverages.

Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Coverage – "First Party Benefits"

Pennsylvania auto insurance requirements are very unique when it comes to the first party benefits portion of the policy. Unlike many other states, Pennsylvania’s first party benefits are the only “no fault” portion of the coverage that is required by the state’s laws. These coverages apply to you and you household family members, thus the “first party” designation. I will try to explain these coverages in a way that I hope will help guide you toward making a better informed decision on what limits will best cover your family.

Medical expense coverage is required in the amount of $5000 for each automobile you insure on your policy. This coverage is considered primary in Pennsylvania and will pay before any other insurance when you are injured in an automobile accident. You and any of your family members will be covered for up to $5000 in medical expenses each. Pennsylvania auto insurance law requires each company to offer up to $100,000 in medical expense coverage. For clients who do not currently carry major medical insurance I would advise carrying a higher limit of medical expense coverage.

Income loss coverage is not mandatory in Pennsylvania but it is a very affordable coverage. Consider adding this coverage to protect your potential lost wages in the event that you are injured in an automobile accident. I’d like to remind you that this is also a “no fault” coverage which means that irregardless of who is at fault your lost wages will be paid by your insurance policy. Limits up to $100,000 and as low as $5,000 can be added to your policy for very minimal cost.

Funeral benefit and accidental death benefit coverage are both available as add-ons. Neither of these coverages are mandatory but are relatively inexpensive to add. If you think a dollar or two is worth covering yourself and family for these unforeseen expenses, you’ll want to add this coverage.

Extraordinary Medical Expenses is a coverage that was assigned to the insurance companies when the state of Pennsylvania decided its CAT fund could no longer afford to exist. This coverage covers the medical expenses beginning at 100,000 and up to 1,000,000. If you are adding this coverage to your policy you need to be sure that you are carrying $100,000 on the medical expense portion or you will have a huge gap in coverage.

Review these coverages with your agent and be sure to get price comparisons between the coverages that you have now and the coverage you really should have. You’ll be surprised at how affordable the right coverage can be.