Though a top vacation destination and highly desirable retirement location, things aren’t all sunny in the Sunshine State. Florida ranks number one in the country in staged auto accidents. In 2011, three of the five cities with the highest questionable medical claims associated with staged accidents –Tampa, Miami and Orlando – are in Florida.
Think this doesn’t affect your insurance policy rates? Think again. Pervasive no-fault insurance fraud is a major reason Florida auto insurance premiums are shooting sky-high. In fact, for Florida families who maintain two automobiles, this insurance fraud may be costing as much as $100 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
To learn more about this rampant crime, see “Staged Auto Accidents on the Rise in Tampa, Miami and Orlando: How You Can Avoid Being a Victim.”
Florida’s mandatory auto insurance requirements
Under Florida law, the only auto insurance motorists are required to you to buy is property damage liability (PDL) insurance and personal injury protection (PIP).
If you operate a motor vehicle in the Sunshine State, Florida law requires you to carry a minimum of:
- $10,000 PDL
- $10,000 PIP
If you finance your car, the lender may require additional coverage, but Florida law prohibits insurance agents and companies from requiring you to buy other coverage.
What PDL covers
This coverage pays for damages you or members of your family may cause as the result of an automobile accident.
What PIP covers
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety, PIP, also known as no-fault insurance, covers you:
- Whether or not you are found at fault
- Up to the limits of your policy
Under Florida law every motorist and auto owner must carry $10,000 PIP insurance.
Financial responsibility requirements
Florida law also requires that any driver who has been charged with specific traffic citations or who has been involved in a car crash, and is uninsured or unable to pay the cost of damages, to carry additional PIP coverage and PDL insurance beyond the mandatory minimums. These drivers may be required to carry and prove insurance coverage insurance up to the amounts of:
- $10,000 – bodily injury liability, per person
- $20,000 – bodily injury liability, per accident
- $10,000 in property damage liability
Seasonal or part-time residents
Any part-time or seasonal resident living in Florida at least 90 days each year is also required to carry PIP and PDL insurance, even if the 90 days are not consecutive
The high cost of DUI in Florida
If you are found guilty of or plead no contest to a DUI, you will be required to carry additional coverage. This could be up to:
- $100,000 liability to cover one person injured or killed in one crash
- $300,000 liability to cover two or more persons injured or killed in one crash
- $50,000 in property damage liability
You also have the option to post a $350,000 certificate of post a bond or instead, but whichever you choose, you will have to maintain the extra coverage for three years. If you have a clean driving record at the end of that time, you will be allowed to return to the standard level of required insurance.
If your insurance is cancelled
If your insurance company cancels your PIP and PDL coverage and you do not purchase new coverage, Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) may suspend your driver license, license plate tag and registration. In order to reinstate your license and registration, you will need to provide proof of insurance coverage. Your reinstatement fees will cost you $150 for your first offense and $250 if you are charged a second time for the second offense. You may be penalized as much as $500 for a third offense in a three-year period.
Change of address
The law states that you must have your correct address on your Florida driver license. If you have changed your address, Florida law gives you 10 days to inform the DHSMV. If you fail to update your address, you could be fined $30.
A note of caution
In Florida, statistics show that over 50 percent of motorists on the road today are either only minimally insured, are underinsured or driving illegally without any insurance coverage at all. Make sure to protect yourself with adequate coverage. Consider also, if you need “full” coverage, because sadly, oftentimes adequate coverage will not be enough.
Beware of unlicensed insurance brokers. Florida law states that you must purchase your insurance from a company, company representative or auto insurance agent licensed to do business in Florida. Because of a high incidence of insurance fraud relating to unlicensed companies or agents, make sure your agent or company is legitimate. This can be verified by calling Florida’s Consumer Services Information at 877-693-5236.
Average annual cost of auto insurance
The 2011 average annual premium for auto insurance in Florida is $1476, which is just under the national average of $1561.
Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org
Florida Department of Insurance
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Customer Service Center Tel 850-617-2000
Official website www.flhsmv.org
Automobile Insurance: A Guide for Consumers, published by Consumer Services Information www.MyFloridaCFO.com