Registering a vehicle in Florida comes with certain mandatory insurance requirements. Motorists must show proof of both personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) coverage before the state will issue license plates and registration. Failure to maintain insurance can result in hefty fines, suspension of driving privileges, and revocation of license plates.
This guide examines Florida’s insurance rules for vehicle registration in detail. It covers who needs coverage, the required policy limits, penalties for noncompliance, and steps for canceling insurance when selling or moving a registered vehicle out of state.
Florida’s Mandatory Auto Insurance Requirements
Florida classifies motor vehicles for registration purposes as any car, truck, or motorcycle with four or more wheels. To register either a new or used vehicle purchased in Florida, motorists must provide:
- A Florida title or out-of-state title transferred to their name
- Valid ID
- Any applicable sales tax documentation
- Proof of both PIP and PDL insurance coverage
The state’s motor vehicle financial responsibility law requires these minimum auto insurance limits on all registered vehicles:
- $10,000 Personal Injury Protection
- $10,000 Property Damage Liability
PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other benefits for injuries to covered drivers and passengers, regardless of fault. This no-fault coverage pays up to 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost income per accident, up to policy limits.
PDL covers damage that the policyholder or other drivers cause to another party’s vehicle or property in an at-fault accident.
Florida also requires additional liability of $125,000/$250,000 bodily injury liability and $50,000 PDL on registered taxis.
What Types of Vehicles Need Insurance to Register in Florida?
The insurance requirements apply to all motor vehicles with four or more wheels registering for road use, including:
- Trucks and pickups
- RVs and motorhomes
- Trailers and fifth wheels
- Custom or homemade vehicles
Golf carts, off-road, and specialty vehicles that never operate on public roads may register without insurance. But any registered vehicle driven on highways or streets needs current PIP and PDL coverage.
Penalties for Lacking Required Insurance
Strict penalties and enforcement mechanisms ensure compliance with Florida’s insurance mandates. The state will suspend the driver’s license and vehicle registration if:
- A lapse in insurance coverage occurs anytime during the registration period
- An uninsured accident results in a judgment or settlement order
- Law enforcement cites a driver for lack of coverage during a traffic stop
Suspensions last until the motorist provides proof of new insurance and pays a reinstatement fee up to $500. Repeat offenders incur stiffer reinstatement fees along with possible vehicle impoundment or forfeiture.
Uninsured drivers also face fines of $150 to $500 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent violations. Jail sentences up to 60 days may apply for multiple convictions.
Steps to Cancel Insurance on a Florida Registered Vehicle
Since insurance must remain in force throughout the registration cycle, motorists should take care when cancelling policies on Florida registered cars and trucks. Important steps include:
Pay any outstanding premiums before the policy cancellation date. Nonpayment will show as a lapse in coverage.
Formally notify the insurer and have them file the cancellation electronically with the state. This prevents enforcement actions.
Return the license plate to the local DMV or tax collector’s office before canceling insurance to avoid suspension.
Maintain insurance in your name until the plate is turned in, even if not actively driving the vehicle.
Cancel only after re-registering the vehicle out of state or transferring the title to a new owner.
Proper coordination prevents penalties when selling or relocating a registered vehicle to a new jurisdiction. Transferring the plate to another owned vehicle keeps insurance active until the registration expires.
Alternatives for Low Mileage Vehicles
Since Florida requires continuous insurance regardless of actual mileage, owning minimally used specialty vehicles like classic cars or RVs registered in Florida can get expensive. Alternatives include:
Dropping comprehensive and collision coverage to just pay for mandatory PIP and PDL at minimum limits.
Exploring usage-based or pay-per-mile insurance options from insurers like Metromile.
Letting the registration expire and turning in license plates while retaining ownership. Insurance is no longer required when the vehicle has no active registration.
Registering the vehicle out of state if primarily located elsewhere. This avoids Florida’s mandatory coverage rules.
Insurance for Out-of-State Vehicles and Non-Residents
Non-residents driving into Florida only need to carry insurance meeting the requirements of their home state. But out-of-state insurance coverage ceases being valid once taking up legal state residency or registering a vehicle here.
Some common scenarios initiating Florida’s insurance mandates include:
Accepting a job or enrolling in college as a Florida resident
Registering to vote in Florida elections
Obtaining a Florida driver’s license
Purchasing property or occupying rented housing year-round
Registering a previously out-of-state vehicle in Florida
In these cases, drivers must transfer to a Florida policy upon registering the vehicle here. Military members stationed in Florida may qualify for exemptions when retaining legal residency elsewhere.
Finding Florida Insurance with Spotty Driving Records
Drivers with recent violations, accidents, license suspensions, or lapses in prior coverage often struggle finding affordable insurance. Florida’s high-risk market features insurers specializing in these non-standard risks.
Asking agents to quote from multiple companies returns the widest range of options. Drivers can also research top insurers like Direct General, Freeway Insurance, and First Acceptance known for taking on high-risk applicants.
Meeting Florida’s registration insurance minimums while shopping for the best rates ensures compliance with the law while putting responsible drivers back on the road.
Do You Need Insurance to Register a Car in Florida? – Key Takeaways
Florida law requires PIP and PDL coverage to register any motor vehicle for highway use
Required minimum limits are $10,000 per coverage type
Gaps in insurance trigger severe penalties, including fines, suspension, and revocation
Returning license plates before cancellation prevents enforcement actions
Non-residents can initially use out-of-state insurance until establishing Florida residency
High-risk drivers have options in Florida’s specialized non-standard market
Keeping continuous auto insurance in force allows motorists to legally operate vehicles registered in Florida. Working closely with agents facilitates transitions when buying, selling, or relocating vehicles to stay compliant.
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