Comparing and choosing the best Auto Insurance Scheme in Florida

Moving to Florida and wondering about Auto Insurance? Here’s a ready reckoner to help choose the best Auto Insurance.

Very Important: Make sure you buy Insurance only from Florida licensed Insurance companies. Even if you have insurance from another state, ask your insurance agent to transfer it to an insurance company licensed by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

Florida is a “No –fault” Insurance state which means regardless of who is at fault in an accident you pay for your own injuries. As per The Florida Motor Vehicle No Fault Law, it’s mandatory to carry PIP and PDL coverage while your car is registered in Florida. You have to show proof of coverage to get your tags, and License. By law you are required to continuously have coverage as long as your car is registered in Florida.

To register a car in Florida, you need a minimum of $ 10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP), and $ 10,000 Property Damage Liability (PLD). 

PIP coverage benefits include medical expenses, lost wages, lost services, and funeral expenses.  PIP coverage applies to your children (even when there  injuries occur on a school bus), other household members, and passengers riding in your car who do not own a vehicle. PIP coverage is valid even if you are driving someone else’s car with their permission, or if you suffer injuries involving a motor vehicle as a pedestrian or bicyclist.  Anyone who has PIP coverage will always be covered under their respective policies irrespective of ownership of vehicle.

Bodily Injury Liability and Damage Liability Insurance are optional, but the Florida DMV and /or the insurance company can ask you to buy this if you are involved in a crash or convicted of certain traffic offences.  Likewise Uninsured/Underinsured insurance is optional to cover payments if incident is caused by an uninsured/underinsured person.  It can be offered by the insurance company, but you can turn it down in writing.

Comprehensive collision coverage is highly recommended if your car is less than 10 years old and if you have valuable assets like a big house, expensive car for which you are paying EMIs, and cannot afford to pay out of pocket if the car is totaled.

Florida follows a graduated licensing system for teen drivers.  A 15 year old can get a permit for 90 days. A teen can only drive under until 10.00 PM, and always under the supervision of an adult driver. Restrictions will be relaxed gradually every year, and will be lifted entirely at 18 years.

Now that you have the necessary information, determine the kind of coverage you would need based on your circumstances.  You can go in for minimum required to full coverage which means you are covered for damage you cause to others up to your liability limit, fair market value of your car minus the deductible if you are at fault, or hit by a person without insurance or is underinsured.  Your injuries, and those of your passengers if hit by an uninsured/underinsured motorist. 

It is recommended to have full coverage when the car is new and financed, while having a manageable limit on the deductible. Ones the car is fully paid off raise the deductible. You can drop the comprehensive collision coverage when you can replace the car with your own money, and do not need insurance to pay for it.

Start online to compare quotes of different combinations.  Higher coverage does not necessarily mean a very high rate. Do a bit of what-if analysis to arrive at the right balance of coverage for the price.  There might be work place arrangements with insurance companies which will give you a better rate. Be sure to check the option before going to another company.  You will also get discounts if you buy insurance online without calling an agent, and it is fairly easy to do so. Take the help of a computer-savvy friend or relative if you do not feel you can do it by yourself.

Go through consumer sites which throw light from experience of other users from different insurance companies. Forewarned is forearmed.

Continue reading the second part of this article here:

Part 2: Comparing and choosing the best Auto Insurance Scheme in Florida

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