Posted : 12/01/2009
If you are a driver or are about to become a driver who lives in Florida you should know that to legally drive in the state, you must have auto insurance. It's mandatory, and if you fail to maintain insurance coverage on your car, you could find yourself in trouble with both law enforcement and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor.
Florida law requires drivers to purchase insurance $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). That said, carrying the minimum isn't always the best - or cheapest - solution. Learn more about how much coverage you should buy before you shop so that you're protecting things like your home, your finances and your family.
PIP insurance covers medical expenses, as well as lost wages and other damages, though not in all cases. PIP kicks in no matter who is at fault for an accident. PDL covers another driver's vehicle or a person's property when you're at fault for an accident.
Though Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) is not mandated by the state of Florida, it is strongly recommended. And if you have shown financial irresponsibility following an accident, you may be required to carry it. BIL covers the cost for death or serious and permanent injury to others when you are at fault for an accident.
For example, if you own a home, carrying the minimum auto insurance coverage in Florida may not protect you if you cause an accident and your insurance doesn't cover all of the damages. If the other driver decides to sue to recoup those damages, it could mean you could lose your house.
Though you must carry minimum coverage, you are not restricted to minimum coverage. There are several options you can take advantage of to protect both you, your passengers, other drivers and, in many instances, your financial well being and other property. Here's a rundown:
If the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles determines that you drove without car insurance, it can suspend your driving privileges, including tags and registration, for up to three years or until proof of Florida insurance is provided, whichever is first.
Once you have auto insurance and have served your suspension, it will cost you restoration fees to get your driving privileges back. That will set you back at least $150 and could go as high as $500 with subsequent violations.
If you are moving to Florida from another state, you cannot keep your current auto insurance policy. You must acquire at least the minimum allowable coverage by law from an agent licensed to sell or insurance company licensed to issue policies in Florida.
Snowbirds who live in Florida for a few months out of the year and keep a car in storage while they're away should note that if the car holds a valid Florida tag and registration it must its auto insurance coverage must be current. But here's the loophole. You can surrender your tag and registration for the time that you're away so that you do not have to maintain your policy. Reregister and shop for a new policy when you return.
Auto insurance companies in Florida are allowed to use your credit history when setting rates and determining your payment schedule (monthly, quarterly, in full). They may also use it to help create a personal "insurance risk score." However, they may not use credit as the sole factor that determines the price of a policy, whether the policy is issued, or any other negative action. You policy will include specific information about how you can learn about the effect of credit on your rate, if any.
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