Florida is home to almost 17 million registered motor vehicles. That includes all private, commercial, and publicly-owned vehicles in the Sunshine State. That also means it has the third-highest number of US vehicle registrations.
With that many vehicles, it’s no wonder that over 400,000 crashes occur in the state each year. This is also why you should never drive without car insurance in Florida. Without coverage, your finances, driving privileges, and entire future are at stake.
If you’re a new driver or have recently moved to Florida, it’s best to know how auto insurance in the state works. FL’s insurance laws are quite different from those implemented by other states.
Ready to learn all about the Sunshine State’s motor vehicle insurance laws? Then let’s dive right into it!
1. You Need Proof of Insurance to Register a Vehicle
Having auto insurance in Florida is a pre-requisite in registering any four-wheel vehicle. Section 627.736 of the Florida Statutes codifies these car insurance requirements. Under this law, anyone who wishes to register a vehicle must first provide proof of two coverages.
The first one is Personal Injury Protection (PIP). The minimum required limit for this is $10,000.
The second mandatory coverage is Property Damage Liability (PDL). Like PIP, the minimum required limit is also $10,000.
2. Your Own Coverage Pays for Your Injuries
The PIP of a Florida car insurance policy pays medical and disability benefits. The beneficiary is the insured and their relatives who live in the same house they do. It may also cover their passengers or anyone they allow to operate their insured vehicle.
Therefore, your PIP is your first point of injury claim if you get into a motor vehicle accident. The same goes for if you’re a passenger of a car that gets involved in a crash.
3. Florida Car Insurance Requirements Are Often Not Enough
The estimated average cost of evident motor vehicle crash injuries in 2018 was $27,800. This rose by almost four times to $96,200 for disabling injuries.
If you crash your car and only have the minimum PIP, you may find yourself on the hook for far more out-of-pocket costs. That’s why it’s best to purchase more than what the state requires. It covers you and your loved ones, anyway, so that should be a good enough reason to splurge a bit more on it.
4. You May Only Receive Part of Your Coverage
Florida follows a “no-fault” law and a “pure comparative fault” rule. The former is the main reason PIP is mandatory; with it, any injured insured person can get coverage. By contrast, the latter “splits” the fault and the amount of damages that a person can recover.
Suppose you got into a crash in which you’re partly to blame. The jury then determines that you are 30% at fault for the incident.
In the above example, the jury will deduct 30% off of the amount you can recover. So, if you have damages of $100,000, you will only receive $70,000.
5. Minimum Requirements Go up for Drivers With Records
Florida drivers with previous accident records need to get bodily injury (BI) liability. The minimum they must get is $10,000 per person and another $20,000 per accident. However, they can opt for a policy that comes with both coverages and has a limit of at least $30,000.
The above applies to drivers who caused an accident that led to the injury or death of others.
The minimum requirements are even more stringent in drivers with DUI convictions. The state requires them to get a BI coverage of no less than $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. They must also purchase $50,000 in PD liability.
6. Hefty Penalties Await Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists
Motorists who get caught driving uninsured/underinsured can get their licenses suspended. The state can also suspend or revoke their vehicle registration. It’s possible to have these reinstated, but only after obtaining SR22 insurance.
Florida also imposes a license reinstatement fee of $150 for first offenders. This goes up to $500 for subsequent auto insurance violations. Reinstatement can only occur after the driver provides proof of car insurance.
7. Uninsured Motorist Coverage Can Be a Lifesaver
The most recent report found that more than one in four motorists in Florida has no auto insurance. That’s the highest uninsured rate in all 50 states. That’s two-thirds higher than NH and VA, the only two states where car insurance isn’t even required.
With that many uninsured motorists, it’s best to get extra uninsured motorist coverage. This can help pay for the costs of severe injuries you or your passengers sustain if hit by an uninsured driver. You’d still make injury claims on your PIP coverage for minor injuries, though.
8. Insurers Can Factor in Past Claims When Determining Rates
Florida allows auto insurance companies to use a driver’s claims history as a rate basis. This means that having no previous claims can help you keep your car insurance rates low. On the flip side, the more car insurance claims you’ve made before, the higher your current rates can be.
9. Having Bad Credit Can Also Make Your Rates Go up
Previous studies discovered a link between financial management and insurance claim risks. They found that those with better money management skills also had lower claim risks.
Now, keep in mind that high credit scores often indicate good financial management.
For this reason, your credit score can also influence your auto insurance rates. The higher your credit score is, the lower your car insurance rates may be. The lower your credit score is, the pricier your coverage rates can get.
Never Go Without Car Insurance in Florida
Having car insurance in Florida is synonymous with being a driver in the Sunshine State. You can’t even register your vehicle without adequate coverage! You may be able to drive it, but if you get caught driving uninsured, you’ll lose your driving privileges.
Besides, the financial consequences are too high to drive without insurance. So, don’t risk it! Buy enough coverage to protect yourself and the millions of other Florida road users.
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