Car Insurance in Florida

I found $1,250 in savings in 40 minutes

The combination of Florida’s no-fault laws, subtropical weather, and high percentage of elderly drivers make it the fourth most expensive state for auto insurance. And while most residents end up paying almost $50 more than the national average every month, my research indicates that there are hundreds of dollars in potential savings just waiting to be found — and all it takes is a bit of comparison shopping to find the best car insurance option for you.

When I applied for the the state’s minimum coverage, I found that I could save $1,250 just by picking the right insurance company. Of the five quotes I got, State Farm was the best option for me at $1,274. Progressive followed closely behind at $1,356. Just because these two companies were the cheapest for me doesn’t mean they’ll be the cheapest for you, though. Getting auto insurance quotes is an insanely customized process, and I’d be a fool to recommend one company as the best for everyone.

There factors that influence how much auto insurance companies will charge you include your age, marital status, driving history, and even your ZIP code. On top of that, each insurer weighs those factors differently. So the best strategy for finding cheap car insurance insurance will always be to compare quotes — and I’d suggest getting at least five.

Expect to spend no more than 10 minutes getting each quote. You’ll probably have most of the general information committed to memory, but there are few things you might need to pull from your vehicle, like its make, model, configuration, and average annual mileage. After that, you’ll check some boxes, click a few buttons, and voila, you’ll have yourself a quote. (And if you really want to knock ‘em out, grab your vehicle’s VIN number that is listed on your proof of insurance — it’ll save time both on the phone and online.)

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Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Florida

I started my search search by getting quotes from the following five companies, all of which I’d recommend to anyone in Florida.

Insurer My quote
State Farm $1,274
Progressive $1,356
GEICO $1,466
Allstate $1,546
MetLife $2,524

If you look at the statistics, every driver’s bound to get in a wreck at some point. And when that happens, poor customer service from the insurance agency is a headache that no one wants. Any insurance company worth recommending should have a proven track record of great service and financial stability. That’s why I chose to get quotes with insurers that have the highest JD Power ratings in Florida and have an A.M. rating of excellent or better. (For the uninitiated, JD Power is a global leader in customer service surveys and A.M. Best is an organization that evaluates the financial solvency of insurance companies.)

When I compared the quotes, there was an astounding $1,250 range for the exact same coverage. State Farm and Progressive were the two best options at $1,274 and $1,356 respectively, while MetLife quoted me a whopping $2,524 — which was almost $1,000 more than the next highest premium for the exact same coverage. I knew immediately that wasn’t the pick for me. All things considered, I could save at least $100 by switching from any other provider to State Farm or Progressive; money I could invest in even better coverage.

Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years

Many car insurance companies don’t calculate premiums on your level of risk alone; they also consider how much money you’re comfortable paying — a practice called price optimization, or “profit maximization” according to Bob Hunter, the director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. According to a study by Earnix, 45 percent of large insurance companies analyze an incredible amount of your personal data (like credit scores, web shopping habits, and social media activity) with a proprietary algorithm that decides how likely you are to look for better deals. That allows providers to charge you just enough to maximize profit, but also to keep you from lifting an eyebrow.

In sum, customer loyalty is being rewarded with gradual rate increases that are often masked by less valuable “good driver” discounts. Who wants a company like that?

Shopping for a new policy every one to two years is a great way to make sure that insurers will offer competitive rates that reflect you as a driver, not predictive analytics. Plus, it can help you avoid falling prey to price optimization in the future. Think about it: Companies can see when you apply for quotes. And the more frequently that happens, the more of a volatile revenue stream you become — and they definitely don’t want to lose you as a customer.

Florida is one of 15 states that have officially addressed the reality of price optimization and its effect on drivers. On May 14, 2015, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation released a memorandum that essentially banned the practice, stating that the analysis and incorporation of data not related to risk results in unfair discrimination and violates the Florida Statutes (sections 627.062 and 627.0651 specifically). Moving forward, insurers that have used price optimization in the past are required to submit a filing to eliminate that use.

Many of the people opposed to price optimization share in the state’s ethical concern, but claim the memo’s wording is too ambiguous to be successful. For instance, Alex Hageli, director of Personal Lines Policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, says that Florida’s definition of price optimization is “vague and very broad” and could lead to excessive punishment for both insurers and policyholders in the state. In fear of the grey area, Hageli expects some insurers to limit other practices that benefit drivers, like price tempering, which acts as a cap for annual rate increases and ensures they won’t exceed the state’s average by more than a predefined percentage.

Florida’s Minimum Coverage

The Bare Minimum

Florida requires $10,000 Personal Injury Protection coverage and $10,000 Property Damage Liability coverage in order to purchase and maintain a valid license plate. That’s a shockingly low amount of coverage — it’s easy to image even a very minor accident causing more than $10,000 in property damage.

The Best Car Insurance Isn’t Just Cheap Car Insurance

I always recommend getting more than the minimum coverage for two main reasons:

  • Average drivers have an accident every 17.9 years.
  • The average medical cost of an accident that permanently injures someone is $80,700 — that’s not including property damages. If I wrecked a sporty car, or injured multiple people, it could easily skyrocket from there.

Florida’s minimum coverage ($10,000/$20,000 of personal injury protection) would cost me $1,274 a year. By upgrading that to include $50,000/$100,000 of bodily injury liability and $50,000/$100,000 of uninsured motorist coverage, I’d pay $1,510 — $236 more annually. Multiply that by 18 years and the better coverage would cost $4,248 more.

Let’s say I got in a wreck with someone who only maintained minimum coverage, and permanently injured them to the tune of $60,000 (which is being super optimistic). The victim could take me to court and I might wind up being responsible for around $40,000 out of pocket. With the upgraded coverage, I’m only responsible for $10,000 if the worst happens. It still isn’t a wonderful situation, but in my book, I’m much better off coughing up $15,000 than $40,000.

I’d also recommend not just upgrading your policy, but adding Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage as well. According to the Insurance Research Council’s research in 2012, almost 26 percent of Florida’s drivers are uninsured, which is one of the highest percentages in the nation.

If You Skip Coverage, It’ll Cost You

If you are found to be incorrectly insured, or without insurance altogether, your driving privileges will immediately be suspended for up to three years. And to get them reinstated, you’ll need to cough up a $150 fee (up to $500 for subsequent violations) and proof of valid insurance. The long-term repercussions, however, include a damaged driving record, higher premiums, and possibly even jail time — especially if you are involved in an accident.

If you’re uncertain of the exact dollar amounts provided by your current policy (or the one you’re shopping for), call an agent or read the policy’s declarations page (Allstate has a great illustrated guide here). It’s never a bad idea to verify that your provider has actually given you the right amount of coverage.

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Beat the Average Premium: 9 Ways to Snag Cheap Car Insurance Rates

There are a ton of factors that affect your rates, but there are ways make cheap car insurance even cheaper. For me, one of the easiest things I can do is sit back, relax, and wait until I turn 25. Moving isn’t an option, but reducing my number of unnecessary trips into town is also a pretty feasible adjustment for my lifestyle. Check out how you could find even more savings.

Nine Ways To Lower Your Car Insurance Rates

FAQs

Why is Florida auto insurance so expensive?

Florida’s rates are among the highest in the nation for several reasons, but primarily because of it’s a no-fault state. Residents are required to pay their own expenses during any accident and need to maintain Personal Injury Protection coverage to cover it. It’s a bummer though because many Floridians are also covered for accident-related medical expenses through their health insurance, so many of us will be paying for the same thing twice.

What to Expect
Average Monthly Premiums
United States $139
Florida $188
Hialeah $252
Miami $221
Tampa $200
West Palm Beach $196
Boca Raton $195
Hollywood $194
Pompano Beach $193
Coral Springs $192
Fort Lauderdale $188
Pembroke Pines $185
Clearwater $173
Saint Petersburg $172
Orlando $160
Cape Coral $153
Jacksonville $146
Tallahassee $129
Gainesville $121
Source Quadrant

The state has enforced this no-fault auto insurance plan since 1971 and the intention was to reduce lawsuits. Ironically enough, though, the number of legitimate and fraudulent Personal Injury Protection claims began skyrocketing in 2008 and still continues to rise. A 2012 reform attempted to clamp down on fraudulent claims, but the results have been controversial. Senator Jeff Brandes filed a bill in December of 2105 which, if it passes, will repeal the no-fault car insurance. If it does, we might see a break in our rates.

Aside from no-fault insurance, Florida is the nation’s leader in careless driving accidents and logs more fatal crashes than any other state, with the exception of only Texas and California. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 2,228 fatal accidents in Florida in 2013. Add in some subtropical weather and a number of elderly drivers, and it’s easy to see why Florida’s auto insurance premiums are higher than the national average.

What if I’m not a full-time resident?

If you’re traveling to Florida for business or an extended vacation and you’re there and driving more than 90 days within a 365-day period, you need to purchase minimum auto insurance coverage. And if you’re a part-time resident with valid Florida license plates and registration, you must be covered by a Florida insurance policy throughout the entire registration period, not just while you’re living in the state.

Expert’s Corner

I spoke with Kevin, the manager of Oliver’s Auto Body in Melbourne, FL, to shed more light on the state’s minimum coverage and top insurers. He has a 30-year career in the auto repair industry and I wanted to get his take on how much coverage I should get.

Should drivers get more than the minimum coverage?

Yes, absolutely. The minimum for collision in Florida is $10,000, and it’s been that way even since the 80s. Back then, you could replace a car for that. Nowadays it takes a lot more.

Which company is your favorite to work with?

This really applies everywhere, but it’s going to be USAA, Amica, and State Farm, in that order. They don’t try to knock us down as much as the other companies.

The Bottom Line

Because accidents do happen, you should consider getting more than the minimum state coverage. Going above the minimum isn’t actually as expensive as not comparison shopping for insurance. So, head on out there and get some quotes; it’s only way to find the best car insurance for you. It doesn’t take long at all. And if you’re like me, you could wind up saving more than $1,000.

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Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.

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