Florida law requires every driver to carry a minimum amount of car insurance in order to ensure financial responsibility in the event of an accident. The amount of insurance you are required to carry in Florida differs from most other states in that bodily injury coverage is not mandatory for most drivers. Property damage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) are the only required coverage.
Required Insurance Coverage in Florida
Florida drivers are required by to carry at least $10,000 in liability coverage for property damage and $10,000 in PIP coverage. PIP covers only a select few people – you, your family members, people riding in your car who do not own a car, and anyone driving your car with permission. This coverage applies regardless of fault in an accident. This coverage will also apply to pedestrians and cyclists, but only if they are Florida residents. Coverage outside the state of Florida is limited only to you and your family members.
PIP does not cover drivers or passengers in other cars. Since Florida law does not mandate bodily injury coverage, drivers who choose the legal minimum take on the risk of paying out of pocket for any injury claims when they are found at fault in an accident. A major exception to the rule is anyone who is convicted of a DUI. Anyone convicted of a DUI after October 1, 2007 is required by law to carry bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident.
The $10,000 minimum for property damage pays for damage to the property of another person, including homes and other property, as well as damage to public property. This applies when you are at fault and responsible for the damage.
Optional Insurance Coverage
Drivers in Florida have the choice to purchase a variety of different coverage options to expand and enhance their level of protection. Most drivers choose to add basics such as bodily injury liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, and many choose additional options.
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL). This provides coverage for the costs associated with the serious injury or death of another person in the event of an accident in which you, or any person driving your car with your permission, are found to be at fault. BIL applies when the PIP coverage on your policy has met and exceeded its limits.
- Collision. When you are at fault in an accident, collision coverage provides for the cost of repairs to your vehicle. There is a deductible associated with this coverage, which you will need to pay before benefits apply.
- Comprehensive. This coverage will pay for damage to or replacement of your car when it is damaged in any incident that is not a collision. This can include vandalism, weather-related damage, fire, and theft. This coverage also carries a deductible, and can also be used to pay for glass replacement.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM). Uninsured Motorist coverage pays for damages or injuries caused by another driver who either has no insurance or carries insufficient limits to cover all of the damages. UM can also be applied to hit-and-run situations where the other driver can’t be located.
- Towing and Labor. Florida drivers can purchase this coverage to provide roadside assistance benefits and pay for the cost of having a covered vehicle towed home or to a repair center.
- Rental Car Reimbursement. This helps to pay for a rental car if you need one during repairs to your vehicle, as long as the repairs are for a covered loss.
Proof of Insurance Laws and Penalties
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires that all insurance companies report policy information electronically to ensure that drivers are meeting the legal requirements. When a policy lapses or is cancelled, the insurance company will update that information. The driver will be notified and asked to provide proof that they have taken out a new policy; failure to do so will result in suspension of driving privileges.
Suspension can be in force for up to three years. In order to reinstate your license and registration, you will have to pay a $150 fine. Subsequent offenses will result in longer suspension and increased fees – $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third.
Drivers are also required by law to present proof of auto insurance when requested to do so by police officers or when registering or renewing the registration on a vehicle. Failure to do so will also result in penalties.
If you are involved in an accident while uninsured, you will face penalties for failing to carry insurance and find yourself responsible for the damages if you are at fault. Florida law allows lawsuits against at-fault drivers who cause property damage or injuries and do not have appropriate coverage.
You may also be required to file an SR-22 after being caught driving without insurance. This document provides evidence that you are insured in accordance with the law.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Florida is one of only a few states with a no-fault insurance law in place. Contrary to how the name sounds, this law does not relate to how fault is determined in an accident, but rather how benefits are paid out. No-fault insurance means that your insurance company will pay your damages no matter who is at fault in the accident.
The no-fault law is part of the reason Florida law does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage. While it is designed to limit and control how insurance payments are made, the law does still allow lawsuits after an accident where injured parties can seek reparations. Drivers who choose to carry bodily injury liability will be protected in the event of a lawsuit.
Teen Drivers in Florida
Florida, like most states, has a graduated licensing system. Drivers will go through a three-stage program to obtain a full license designed to ensure safety on the road as drivers learn new skills.
- Learner’s Permit. At 15, a driver can obtain a learner’s permit, which they must hold for one full year. During this time the driver must drive with a fully licensed driver who is over the age of 21 at all times. For the first three months drivers can only be on the road during daylight hours, and after this time can drive until 10 p.m.
- Provisional License. After completing 50 hours of driving, 10 of which must be at night and one year with a permit, a driver can take the road test for the provisional license. There are two stages to this period: at 16 you may drive only between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. At 17, you may drive only between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. These time restrictions do not apply if there is a fully licensed driver over 21 in the car or for work purposes.
- Full License. At 18, teen drivers will graduate to a full license without restrictions.
Teen drivers must be covered by a policy that meets the legal insurance minimum from the time they receive their provisional license. Teens may be insured under a parent or guardian’s policy while living in the home and while away at school, provided they maintain the home as their permanent residence.
Buying Auto Insurance in Florida
Florida auto insurance rates ranked tenth highest in the nation for 2014, according to Insure.com. The average rate is $1830. In spite of the no-fault insurance laws designed to keep rates down, Florida continues to pay very high insurance premiums.
Since 2013, the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation has offered the Choices program to help consumers compare rates and find the right auto insurance. The program previously offered only assistance with home and health insurance. The state does not currently offer a low-cost program for drivers to obtain coverage.
Florida drivers can compare rates from a large selection of companies and choose options to fit their budget. Since the legal minimum is relatively low, basic auto insurance is often more affordable that full coverage, but most drivers still seek higher levels.
Insurance For High Risk Drivers
The state does not currently run any sort of program to assist high-risk drivers in obtaining insurance. Since the law requires drivers convicted of a DUI to carry a larger amount of insurance, it can quickly become more costly for those drivers.
There are a number of private companies in Florida who write high-risk auto insurance policies and can help drivers with difficult driving histories to meet and even exceed the legal minimums for coverage.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.