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Florida is not just a vacation destination anymore. In fact, it has one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States over the past few years. While this is excellent news for the local economy, an unintended consequence of this growth is more traffic-induced accidents. Unfortunately, this makes driving without insurance in Florida risky — not to mention illegal. Bankrate’s insurance experts explain some of the consequences that can come along with driving without insurance in the Sunshine State.
Florida car insurance laws
Florida’s car insurance laws make it clear that every driver must have an active car insurance policy that meets the following coverage limits in order to operate a vehicle legally:
- $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP)
- $10,000 property damage liability per accident
You may be surprised to find out that bodily injury liability coverage is not technically a requirement for a minimum car insurance policy in Florida. However, you can’t just skip this coverage and drive legally. According to Florida’s “financial responsibility law,” to forego bodily injury liability coverage, you must be able to demonstrate to the state through a variety of pre-approved methods that you would have the financial capacity to pay for the injuries you might cause to another party. However, most people avoid the paperwork hassle and opt to buy bodily injury coverage anyway. If you do decide to buy the coverage, these are the minimum limits:
- $10,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $20,000 bodily injury liability per accident
Florida is also one of 12 no-fault states in the country, which adds a layer of complexity to how insurance claims process after an accident. Regardless of who causes the accident, your PIP coverage will initially pay for your injuries and those of your passenger. PIP also pays for other costs related to injuries you may sustain in an accident, such as the cost of necessary household services and lost wages.
These are a few other key aspects of Florida’s car insurance laws:
- You must purchase a minimum car insurance policy before registering your vehicle.
- You must purchase your car insurance from a legally licensed provider in Florida.
- If your vehicle is registered in Florida, you must maintain auto coverage, no matter where your vehicle is physically located. There are exceptions for members of the military.
- If you move out of Florida, you must surrender your license plates and registration before canceling your insurance policy.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Florida
The legal penalties for driving without insurance in Florida include fines and a probationary license suspension. See the chart below for a full breakdown:
|Penalty type||First offense||Subsequent offenses|
|Fines||$150||Up to $500 for subsequent offenses within three years of the first offense|
|License suspension||Lasts until reinstatement fee is paid and proof of noncancelable coverage is provided||Lasts until reinstatement fee is paid and proof of noncancelable coverage is provided|
And it’s worth noting that the chart only implies the “legal” penalties for driving without insurance in Florida. The downstream effects can be much more substantial. One example includes paying out-of-pocket medical and property expenses if you cause an accident. Another example is a probable rate hike to your insurance premium. A provider will likely see you as a high-risk driver for operating a vehicle without insurance, which typically results in higher rates.
Getting into an accident without insurance
Getting into an accident without insurance in Florida can be complicated. Since Florida is a no-fault state, the other driver’s PIP should initially provide coverage to them for their injuries (and lost wages, as explained above) — even if you’re the one who caused the accident. If the other driver also has uninsured motorist coverage, they could also receive reimbursement from that coverage.
But don’t take the term “no-fault” at face value. You can still face major financial repercussions for causing an accident without insurance. Following Florida’s “financial responsibility law,” you still have to prove to the state that you can pay for the injuries you cause to someone else; that means that you can’t expect another driver’s PIP to pay for injuries you cause and not face any penalties. If you don’t have insurance or the financial capacity to pay for the injuries and damages you caused, you may face a lawsuit, court costs, wage garnishments and more. For this reason, it may be a safer course financially to purchase full coverage car insurance to protect your assets.
You may also be required to carry an SR-22 form if you’re caught driving without insurance, regardless of whether you caused an accident or not. This is a form that an insurance company files with the state to prove that you have insurance before reinstating your license. It’s basically a way for the state to limit repeat offenders. In more severe cases, such as driving uninsured while under the influence, you may have to file an FR-44 form instead. This form requires the offender to prove they’re carrying even higher limits of liability coverage before having their license reinstated.
Frequently asked questions
There is no simple answer for the best car insurance company in Florida — everyone’s tolerance for risk and financial capacity are different. Is budget your greatest concern? Or maybe you value excellent customer service above all else. In addition, where you are in Florida may make a difference. Are you in a coastal area that is prone to hurricanes that could potentially damage your car? The best way to find the best car insurance in Florida for you is to decide what is most important to you in a company, then select a few insurers that meet that criteria and request quotes.
The average cost of car insurance in Florida is $3,183 per year for full coverage and $1,128 per year for minimum coverage. Florida drivers pay significantly more than drivers in the nation as a whole, where the average annual rate is $2,014 for full coverage and $622 for minimum coverage. However, these rates can vary based on several factors, including your driving history, the type of car you drive, what city you live in and the coverage limits you choose.
Like the temperature, Florida car insurance rates are higher than the national average. But there are a variety of ways you might be able to save on auto insurance premiums. Some tactics include raising your deductibles if you have full coverage (although you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you get into an accident), improving your credit rating, taking advantage of discounts and keeping a clean driving record. But remember that your car insurance provider also considers some less variable factors when calculating your premium rate, including location, age and vehicle. Doing a little legwork to request quotes from a few companies may be the best way to save.