Florida’s laws regarding car insurance are clear: all drivers must purchase and maintain insurance in order to legally operate their vehicles on the Sunshine State’s highways and byways. Absent proof of required auto insurance coverage and minimum insurance, car owners can’t even register their vehicles with the local DMV.
Below is a primer on what you need to know about car insurance requirements and the minimum coverage you need to stay on the right side of Florida law can help.
Bare Bones Coverage
Prior to registering a passenger vehicle in the state of Florida, owners must show minimum coverage proof, according to Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
In a nutshell, this coverage must:
- Include PIP and PDL coverage that is current at the time of registration.
- Include a minimum of $10,000 in PIP and PDL coverage.
- Be continuous, even if the vehicle is inoperable or no one is planning to drive it.
- Come from a licensed insurance carrier with the authority to conduct business in the state.
Florida's Financial Responsibility Law
Florida's Financial Responsibility Law states that drivers must provide financial coverage of at least $20,000 per accident and $10,000 per person if they cause a car accident. Uninsured motorists must still post a bond to meet this coverage. This law also requires that drivers cover up to $10,000 for potential property damage. The combined single limit under this law — that is, the minimum coverage a driver in Florida must have — is $30,000.
Fortunately, most car insurance companies cover this minimum amount, and some offer plans that cover much more. In addition to requiring liability coverage for accidents that cause injuries, this law requires coverage for DUI citations, suspensions due to driver's license demerits, and revocations due to serious traffic offenses.
How Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Work in Florida?
PIP insurance covers your medical expenses due to an accident, regardless of who's at fault. If you have this type of insurance policy, your family members are also covered, along with any passengers who don't have personal injury protection, provided they don't own a registered vehicle.
If your passengers have PIP Insurance and suffer injuries, their own insurance covers their medical payments. In addition, licensed drivers who drive your vehicle with your consent are covered by your PIP Insurance. PIP covers other circumstances in Florida as well, such as if your child is hurt while riding a school bus or if you're hurt while biking or crossing the street.
Florida requires anyone who owns a vehicle with four or more wheels to get at least $10,000 of PIP coverage. The main benefit of a no-fault auto insurance policy and personal injury protection is that monthly premiums are low due to quick payouts and fewer lawsuits. The main drawback is that reckless drivers aren't as likely to lose major assets in an accident, resulting in less of an incentive to drive well.
Fraud also results from PIP insurance, as clinics sometimes play up injuries to receive the full $10,000 payout. Florida drivers can also get extended personal injury protection, which covers all medical expenses and four-fifths of lost wages.
Florida's Laws on Bodily Injury Liability Insurance?
Bodily injury liability insurance, which covers injury or death to others if you crash a vehicle, isn't required in Florida. However, it's good optional coverage to have, and many insurance companies package it with other types of automobile insurance.
Bodily injury liability insurance doesn't just cover the injuries you cause. It covers the injuries all your family members cause, even if they're not driving your vehicle.
Plus, this insurance provides legal representation if you're ever sued by someone you injured, such as if you cause them permanent damage or they incur bills beyond their PIP coverage. Bodily injury liability can also protect your personal assets from being seized in such a lawsuit. Although this insurance isn't required for most people, drivers who've received a DUI may be compelled to get it.
Florida's Laws on Property Damage Liability Insurance
All drivers in Florida must have property damage liability insurance. This insurance covers any property you or your family members damage in a crash, be it a fence, bicycle, car, or something else. In Florida, $10,000 of property damage liability insurance coverage (to pay for damage to another person's property) is the minimum requirement.
This insurance usually includes legal representation if you're sued for damaging property. Keep in mind that the average property damage claim is a few thousand dollars, so you probably don't need more than the minimum requirement for this insurance.
There are a few other things you should know about Florida car insurance laws. For example, neither comprehensive nor collision car insurance coverage is required in Florida. Collision coverage pays for any repairs you need if your vehicle is damaged in an accident, while comprehensive coverage pays for damage from other causes, such as theft, hail, or flooding. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is also optional. This insurance covers any expenses that exceed the PIP minimum.
Another consideration to keep in mind if you live in Florida is that you can receive a fine of $150 to $500 for driving without proof of insurance — namely, your Florida auto insurance ID card. Your driver’s license can also get suspended for three years as punishment.
In addition, Florida law states that you're liable for any injuries and property damage you cause if you crash without insurance. You must pay all damages you owe before your driving privileges are reinstated. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation regulates how high a premium you must pay for insurance, but insurers decide on the premium based on factors such as your age, marital status, and credit score.
A No-Fault State
Florida insurance laws are unusual in that the state doesn't legally require drivers to have bodily injury liability coverage. That is, you're not required to insure yourself against any injuries that people receive if you cause an accident.
However, Florida — along with 11 other states, such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania — is a no-fault state. That means everyone in an accident must file a claim with their insurance company, even if they're not at fault.
And it's a good idea to have uninsured motorist coverage to pay for damages if someone without insurance damages your vehicle. Comprehensive insurance is a smart idea for most folks since it will offer a lot of benefits beyond basic liability coverage no matter who causes the accident.
No-fault law in the state of Florida mandates that drivers get personal injury protection insurance to cover them in case they or their passengers are hurt in an accident that's not their fault. PIP insurance sidesteps the need for accident victims to file a claim with the perpetrator's insurance.
As of 2021, Florida's standard PIP coverage pays for four-fifths of medical bills and three-fifths of lost wages, once the insured motorist pays a deductible. In addition, PIP motorist coverage pays Florida drivers $5,000 in death benefits.
The Bottom Line
Over 14 million drivers use Florida's roads every year, and they cause thousands of accidents, so it's a good idea to pay attention to Florida's car insurance laws.
Remember that the minimum car insurance you need must be issued through a licensed insurance agent in Florida, and it must meet the minimum coverage requirements laid out by Florida law. Failing to maintain proper insurance on your vehicle can lead to serious legal issues, including revocation of driving privileges and the car’s license plate for as long as three years.
Keeping up-to-date insurance on your car isn’t just a smart move that protects the investment you’ve made in your vehicle and hedges against liability in the event of an accident.
In Florida, it’s the law.