Auto Insurance Basics

Auto insurance Requirements in Florida

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In Florida, you need to have auto insurance meeting at least the state minimum liability requirements to drive legally. To ensure that FL drivers always receive the necessary medical attention and some financial protection, the state asks insurers to cover their insured drivers regardless of fault in any given crash; this is known as the Florida No-Fault Law.

While law enforcement officers may ask you to present proof of insurance when you are pulled over, you actually need to have active insurance when you first register your car with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You may present either the declaration page of your policy or your insurance card, and officials will accept it in both paper and electronic format.

Florida Required Car Insurance CoverageFL Required Min. Limits
Property Damage Liability (PDL/PD) $10,000 per accident
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) $10,000 per accident

Florida Car Insurance Minimum Requirements

There are two types of minimum auto insurance requirements in Florida. For most drivers, satisfying the minimum requirements under the Florida No-Fault Law will allow them to drive legally. However, if you cause an accident that results in any degree of bodily injury to another person, or you're under the influence of illegal substances, you will be asked to satisfy extra requirements outlined under the Florida Financial Responsibility Law.

Minimum Requirements for Basic Policies

You must satisfy the Florida No-Fault Law by purchasing a basic policy issued by a licensed insurer in Florida that includes Property Damage Liability and Personal Injury Protection coverages. Specifically, a minimum basic policy will at least have the following two types of protection:

Property Damage Liability (or PDL and PD): covers up to at least $10,000 worth of property damage per crash. This coverage pays out to the other party for their property loss when you are at-fault for the accident. On the other hand, when your car or property is damaged in an accident you did not cause, the other driver’s insurance company will pay for your repairs to your own vehicle. Higher PDL limits are available for higher premiums. 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP): also known as the FL no-fault insurance or Basic PIP, this coverage pays for 80% of most medical expenses for you regardless of fault, up to the limit of $10,000 per accident. There are no higher limits available for PIP in Florida. Unless you choose to exclude certain benefits, this coverage also includes an additional $5,000 death benefit should an insured die from the accident, and disability benefit that reimburses you 60% of your lost income if you are unable to work due to the injuries. Each of these counts towards the combined $10k maximum that your insurer will be paying out per accident. The coverage and benefits will extend to your family if you choose to cover them, but know that if your family members have their own auto insurance, they are automatically excluded from the coverage.

If you are retired and not earning an income, you can choose to exclude the lost income benefit under the PIP. This will lower your coverage premium; however it is not recommended for drivers who are still earning and depending on an income. Alternatively, you can choose a higher PIP deductible (from among $250, $500, and $1,000), which also lowers your premium, but adds to your financial burden when an accident happens.

Minimum Requirements for SR-22 and FR-44 Policies

You may be asked to carry extra coverage types and limits to meet Florida's Financial Responsibility Law in two situations: when you cause a serious accident, or you're caught driving while drunk or on drugs. 

SR-22: Specially, if you cause a crash that hurt or even killed someone, you will be asked to file a SR-22, which is also known as the certificate of financial responsibility. Under the Financial Responsibility law, you will need to purchase Bodily Injury Liability coverage on top of the PDL and PIP coverage. The SR22 minimum requirements of auto insurance are as the following:

  • Bodily Injury & Property Damage: 10/20/10 split limit or $30,000 single limit per crash. The split limit refers to: a maximum of $10,000 of PIP per person in an accident, up to $20,000 total for other injured parties in an accident, and $10,000 of repairs or fixes to other people's vehicles or property that you impacted
  • Personal Injury Protection: $10,000 per crash

FR-44: There is one other instance when you are required to carry higher limits of car insurance: DUIs. Florida has a special rule that penalizes people who drive under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. When you are convicted of DUI, your auto insurance's minimum requirements have to meet FR-44 standards, which requires 10 times the liability limit of an SR-22 certificate, on top of the no-fault insurance requirement. Below is a list of the FR-44 coverages and limits:

  • Bodily Injury: $100,000 per injured person or $300,000 for two or more injured person per crash
  • Property Damage: $50,000 property damage costs per crash
  • Personal Injury Protection: $10,000 per crash

Other Optional Coverage

Both the government and agents will tell you that the state mandated minimum coverage and limits really aren’t sufficient to protect all of your assets. That's especially true because Bodily Injury isn't required in a basic minimum policy - although we recommend it. A well-rounded policy is made up of many different coverages, and here are several options in Florida that motorists may add to enhance their protection: 

Bodily Injury Liability (BIL or BI): this coverage pays for the other party’s medical expenses from injuries in an accident you are at-fault for. If the person you injured does not have auto insurance (such as a pedestrian who does not own a car), this coverage pays the bills. Typically the other driver's PIP coverage on their auto insurance policy would pay for their medical bills, but their insurer may subrogate the medical claims from you if you're at fault for the accident. In this case, you'd have to pay out of pocket - or your Bodily Injury liability would reimburse the other insurer, if you had coverage. That's why we recommend it. The lowest available limit for BIL coverage in Florida is $10,000 per injured person or $20,000 for two or more injured persons in a given crash. Higher limits are usually available, but vary by insurer. Insurers have the right to include this coverage even when you ask to purchase a minimum policy (which normally only needs to include PD and PIP). 

Additional PIP: this coverage acts as a supplement to your PIP. The basic PIP covers up to 80% of your medical expenses, and this coverage could cover the rest of the 20% of costs, along with an extra 25% loss income benefit as long as everything is still within the $10,000 limit. You will also need to select whether or not to include you family member(s) in this coverage.

Medical Payments: this coverage also covers your own medical expenses, including services such as surgeries and dental, that may be necessary due to an accident regardless of fault. This coverage has a separate limit from the PIP and Additional PIP, and it automatically covers any relative that lives with you. Some people may find it redundant because of existing health insurance, but this depends on your policy. Some health insurance companies exclude auto accidents from their coverage. Read more here to see if it's worth it to have MedPay.

Uninsured Motorist BI (UMBI): this coverage pays your bodily injury costs if you were hit by an uninsured driver. It covers all the things as would the other driver's BIL coverage if he had one, including your lost income. Some insurers may not let you purchase it if you do not have a BIL Coverage on your policy. While you may choose from a range of limits available, the limits of your UMBI may never be higher than your BIL limits. We recommend this as well, since Florida has the 2nd highest share of claims due to uninsured drivers (about 24%).

Your Right to Sue

In Florida, you are limited in the right to sue for pain and suffering from an accident. You can sue for medical and other economic losses once your own PIP limits are exhausted, but you cannot sue for emotional suffering or other non-economic losses unless you meet several qualitative thresholds. A court may rule to exempt you from Florida's limited right to sue and award you pain and suffering compensation if you meet one of these specific conditions:

  • Significant Disability: if there is a significant or permanent loss of one or several of your body functions, the court may exempt you from the limitation
  • Permanent Injury: an injury that is determined by a doctor to be permanent may lead the court to lift your limitation. However, past cases have shown that this can be very ambiguous since doctors can often have differing opinions
  • Significant Disfigurement: if court decides that you have suffered a degree of scarring or disfigurement that is significant, it may make you an exception
  • Death

Alternative Proof of Financial Responsibility

Apart from getting an insurance policy, there is one other way to satisfy the minimum requirements: by insuring yourself. Drivers who demonstrate sufficient financial ability to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle may be approved for a certificate of self-insurance. If you become a self-insurer, you will be liable for the same amount of coverage as would an insurance company under the split limits of 10/20/10 for BIL and PDL coverage, as well as a $10,000 PIP coverage. 

Necessary documents to apply for self-insurance include all of the following:

  1. A notarized financial statement that shows assets worth at least $40,000 (combined limits of the minimum BI, PD, and PIP). Also known as the statement of net worth (example here). You may select the assets you choose to list on the balance sheet, but a home residence should not be included, because they will take it if you can't pay out your claim
  2. The license and social security number for all drivers who will be holding the certificate of self-insurance, such as family of the self-insurer
  3. A list of all the vehicles covered under this certificate, including the make, model, year, VIN and license plate (tag) number of each

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