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Monday, July 4, 2022

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Miles to Go

Not getting a hit all season had worn him down. While coaching first base, I prepared myself for the long ride home with a sad little guy. So he is up to bat, swings, and a miracle happens.

As he runs to first base, I cheer and motion him toward second. The crowd and his teammates, excited and a bit stunned to see the little guy actually in motion, yell for him to run to second. He stops at first, stands on the base and smiles.

As we head home, I congratulate him on the win, the hit and the excitement. Then I have to know, “Why didn’t you run to second base?” I remember his response like it was just yesterday. “Dad, I was just happy to get to first!”

I know the feeling son. As a husband, father and lawyer, I’ve had lots of firsts. And like my little guy getting a hit, the unexpected can and does happen.

Not too long ago after a long day at work, I was rushing to finish errands and deliver some food and supplies for a barbecue to a friend’s house. As I pulled down the dirt road leading to his house, I ran through the day in my head. I had one more stop to make and then a baseball game to attend. I pulled into the driveway and unloaded the items for my friend. Happy to have it all done, I returned to my car. Did I park out back? Am I being tricked? I return to the front door and look out at the hill leading to the lake below.

I notice a set of tires in the air. I realize they are my tires attached to my sports car. I, of course, run in to the lake after it, sure I could push it out. After what seemed like hours with no luck, I admitted defeat and called a tow truck. The worst of it was the ride home with my friend. As I got out of his truck in my wet business suit with my shoes full of lake water, he laughed and refused any payment for gas, saying the story was more than worth it.

The call that night to my agent, then the insurance representative and, because it was so funny and unbelievable, the manager of the representative, went something like, “Did you know it was in neutral? Did you see the hill? Did you hear it roll down?” Luckily, my agent had a great sense of humor and I had good coverage. If you learn one thing from my mistake (besides always putting your car in park), it’s that you need good auto coverage.

This is not only because we live in one of the busiest commuter communities in the nation. (The average drive time in the Tampa Bay area is 20 minutes — one way.) And not just because most of us spend a lot of time in our cars, commuting to work, dropping off and picking up from school, traveling to sports or dance practice and weekend games and recitals and maybe, if we’re lucky, a Friday night date with our spouse. It’s because you don’t want to be up a creek should an unfortunate incident happen (literally and figuratively).

Florida’s minimum financial responsibility requirements means you must carry personal injury protection (pip), which will pay 60% of your lost wages and 80% of your medical bills from an accident. You must also carry property damage liability insurance, which covers damage to another person’s property.

There is additional coverage you can add to your car insurance policy. One of the most common is comprehensive collision insurance, which covers damage, even if you cause it. This can be invaluable when your car rolls into a lake. Another worthwhile coverage is underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage because not all drivers obey the law and purchase insurance. Also many drivers who purchase insurance opt to carry only the minimum liability amount required. This coverage is designed to protect and pay you damages if your accident involves a driver who has enough coverage to meet the state’s requirements but not enough to cover the damages you have sustained.

You also can carry a deductible on your property damage and PIP coverage. The amount you agree to pay out of pocket in the event of a car accident can be as low $250. Choosing a higher deductible will typically reduce your insurance premium. Be sure to set your deductible at an amount you know you can afford. You don’t want to lower your premium by choosing a high deductible and then not be able to pay it in the event of an accident.

The best advice on purchasing the mandated car insurance in Florida is to spend some time researching the available coverages. Educate yourself. Insurance agents want your business, and they expect you to ask questions.

Hutch Brock, owner of Brock Law, a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation law firm in Wesley Chapel, has been practicing law for 23 years. Email with questions.

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