Florida Car Insurance

If you live in Florida, even for just a few months a year, you must have automobile insurance to be able to drive your vehicle legally. If you don't have at least the minimum coverages, you could find yourself in trouble with both law enforcement and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The minimum required

Florida law requires drivers to carry a minimum of:

  • $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP)
  • $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL)

PIP is also called Florida No-Fault Insurance. PIP insurance will cover your medical expenses as well as lost wages and some other damages if you're in an accident whether or not it's your fault up to the limits of your policy.

PIP will cover your child, members of your household and any passengers in your car who don't carry PIP. Passengers who carry PIP will be covered under their own insurance. PIP also protects you if you're riding in someone else's car or a bicycle or are a pedestrian.

PDL coverage pays for damages to other people's property that you or members of your family cause and are liable for when involved in a crash.

Bodily injury liability recommended

Florida does not require you carry Bodily Injury Liability (BIL). However, BIL, which pays for serious and permanent injury or death to others should you cause a crash involving your automobile. If you have BIL insurance, your insurance company will not only pay for injuries up to the limits of your policy but it also will provide legal representation should you get sued. That's why, while not required, having bodily injury liability is highly recommended.

Have proof of insurance with you at all times

Your insurance company will issue you a Florida Insurance I.D. card. You must have this card available to show any law enforcement officer who asks. You could be ticketed for not having proof of insurance.

If you don't carry insurance on your vehicles and you are stopped by police for any reason or are involved in an automobile accident, you could lose your driver's license. Your license could be suspended for up to three years or until you prove you have purchased coverage - whichever comes first. You will have to pay a reinstatement fee of $150 for the first offense. You will pay $250 for a second offense within three years and $500 for a third.

Your insurance must be issued by an insurance company that is licensed to sell in the Sunshine State. If you move to Florida from another state, ask your insurance agent if your company writes in Florida (most do) and to transfer your insurance to Florida. You can look up insurance companies licensed to do business in Florida at the company directory on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Requirements apply to snowbirds

If you're a snowbird and only live in Florida during the winter months, you still must maintain automobile insurance. The state requires any vehicle holding a valid Florida license plate and registration be covered by a Florida insurance policy while it is registered. If you leave your car in Florida while you head North, it still must be insured while you are away.

Over 55 can qualify for discount

If you have a Florida driver's License and you are 55 or older, you are eligible to complete a six-hour motor vehicle accident prevention course. Once you complete the course approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, you will be eligible to receive a discount on your automobile insurance. The discount is good for three years. Then you can take a refresher course to renew.

You can take the course online at your leisure.

Florida's graduated driving privileges

Florida is one of many states that has graduated drivers' licensing. You can apply for a learner's license after you turn 15. You must complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Course, pass written, hearing and vision tests, and have a signed parental consent form. With your permit, you can drive during daylight hours as long as a licensed driver who is at least 21 is in the front passenger seat.

When you're 16, you can earn an intermediate license and drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. When you're 17, you can drive between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. When you turn 18, all restrictions are removed.

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