Like all but two states (New Hampshire and Virginia), Florida requires drivers to purchase auto insurance. Florida, however, has lower minimums than most states. Florida is also one of 12 states with no-fault car insurance laws.

If any of this sounds confusing, read on to learn more about auto insurance in Florida. It's not as difficult as it might seem when you're in the market for a new policy. In fact, many people find that Florida's auto insurance laws make it cheaper and easier to find policies that match their needs.

Car Insurance Required in Florida

Florida requires all drivers to buy auto insurance before they can purchase and register vehicles with four wheels. (You don't have to buy insurance to own and ride a motorcycle, but you will have to pay for property damage and medical costs after an accident. Because of this, many people with motorcycles choose to protect themselves with insurance.)

In Florida, you have to carry two types of auto insurance:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) - $10,000 minimum
  • Property damage liability (PDL) - $10,000 minimum

Personal Injury Protection (No-Fault) Insurance

Personal injury protection insurance pays for the medical care that you and passengers may need after a collision. PIP is considered a type of no-fault insurance. By "no-fault" the state means that your insurance policy covers medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses regardless of who causes the accident.

It doesn't matter whether another driver slams into your car or you mistakenly bump someone else's vehicle. Either way, your insurance will pay for your expenses.

The state only requires you to carry $10,000 of PIP. The low requirement benefits drivers by:

  • Keeping auto insurance affordable.
  • Helping injured people get money from their insurance companies quickly.

Keep in mind, though, that anything over $10,000 will come out of your pocket. You can buy insurance that gives you more coverage, but you usually have to pay a little more on those policies. Still, a lot of drivers prefer additional coverage because they worry about the high costs of medical care and lost wages.

Property Damage Liability Insurance

Florida also requires vehicle owners to carry $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL). As the name suggests, PDL pays for property damage caused by a driver. If you hit another driver's vehicle, then PDL will cover up to $10,000 in damages. It will also pay for damage to other types of property, including:

  • Fences
  • Buildings
  • Walls

Note that PDL only covers property owned by other people. It will not pay for your car's repairs.

Only a few states (California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) have PDL minimums under $10,000. Most states require drivers to carry higher amounts of PDL. Georgia and Alabama, both immediately north of Florida, have $25,000 minimums. $10,000, however, is pretty average for the country as a whole.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

Florida doesn't require drivers to purchase bodily injury liability (BDL) insurance, but getting a policy can give you significant protection after a severe collision. When you buy a BDL policy, your insurance company guarantees that it will pay for expenses related to the death or permanent injury of another driver or passenger.

For example, if you cause a wreck that paralyzes someone, BDL will pay for that person's treatment and other bills. BDL will also pay for your legal defense should you get sued by another driver or that person's family.

You can purchase practically any level of BDL insurance. The amount you choose, however, is the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay. Once you exceed the amount covered by your policy, expenses will come out of your pocket.

How Insurance Companies Determine Premiums

Florida's relatively low insurance minimums mean that most people can get policies without spending a lot of money. Insurance companies do, however, look at a variety of factors to decide how much to charge.

Some of the factors insurance companies consider include:

  • How much coverage you want from your policy
  • Where you live
  • Your age
  • Your driving record
  • The type of vehicle you own
  • Whether you've filed claims in the past
  • How many miles you drive in a year
  • Your credit score

You only have control over some of these factors. You can't do much about your age or how many miles you need to travel each year. It's also difficult for many people to control where they live. Regardless, you'll probably pay a higher insurance premium in Miami than other areas since that city has the most car thefts (21,179 in 2017) in the state.

You can, however, make choices that affect your premiums. To keep your insurance costs as low as possible, you should:

  • Choose a higher deductible
  • Pay your bills on time and avoid unsecured debt to keep your credit score high
  • Follow the rules of the road to maintain a clean driving record

Be careful when you choose your deductible! Setting a very high deductible will lower your annual premium, which could help you save money. If you have an accident, though, you will have to reach the deductible amount before your insurance company starts to pick up the bill. If you can't afford to spend $2,000 on car repairs, then you take a big risk by setting your deductible that high.

Florida has slightly different insurance requirements than most states. If you know that you will spend 90 or more days in the state within a 365-day period, though, you need to make sure your insurance meets Florida's minimum requirements.