Are City Vehicles Insured If They Do Not Obtain a Certificate of Self-Insurance ?

In Gabriel v. Travelers Indemnity Co., 515 So. 2d 1322 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987), Gabriel sustained injuries in an automobile accident involving a vehicle owned by the City of Miami. The City maintained a self-insurance program but did not have a certificate of self-insurance as set forth in the statute. Gabriel claimed the City was uninsured. The district court stated: Section 768.28(13), Florida Statutes (1979), authorizes municipalities to obtain any of four types of tort liability coverage: (a) self-insurance, (b) risk management program, (c) liability insurance, or (d) any combination of the stated methods. The City chose to be self-insured and maintains coverage through its Risk Management Department. Thus, under section 768.28(13), the City qualifies as a self-insurer against tort liability. Gabriel argues that the City's failure to obtain the certificate described in sections 324.031 and 324.171, Florida Statutes (1979), left it uninsured and entitles him to recover uninsured motorist benefits. We disagree. Our primary reason for recognizing the City's status as self-insured is the public purpose behind the uninsured motorist statute. The supreme court has consistently held that "the purpose of the uninsured motorist statute is to protect persons who are injured or damaged by other motorists who in turn are not insured and cannot make whole the injured party." Brown v. Progressive Mut. Ins. Co., 249 So. 2d 429, 430 (Fla. 1971); see also Salas v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 272 So. 2d 1 (Fla. 1972); Mullis v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 252 So. 2d 229 (Fla. 1971). The test for determining an injured party's entitlement to uninsured motorist's benefits is "whether the offending motorist has insurance available for the protection of the injured party. . . ." Brown, 249 So. 2d at 430. Here, the City has insurance through its trust fund and possesses the ability to make Gabriel whole. . . . the record affords ample proof that the City is self-insured pursuant to section 768.28(13), and consequently, Gabriel is not entitled to obtain uninsured motorist benefits. 515 So. 2d at 1323-24.