Car Insurance Premium Comparison of Florida Counties
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Most and Least Expensive Counties for Florida Auto Insurance
There's been a lot of talk recently about the prohibitively high cost of auto insurance in Florida. At the national level, Florida is the third most expensive state for car insurance, after Louisiana and Michigan. You can chalk a lot of it to claims from storm damage and insurance laws that often involve lawyers hashing it out in court, all at the expense of the insurance providers.
But there’s more to it than that. From the perspective of an insurance agency, it’s a risky place to provide coverage. There are a lot of uninsured drivers—more than any other state. It’s estimated that as many as a quarter of drivers on the road are uninsured. (Needless to say, if you're struck by an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist, their coverage won't help you.) On top of that, universities and tourism from places like Disney World add a lot of risky drivers to the mix.
As a policyholder, you’ll want affordable car insurance that provides no-fault insurance. Florida’s car insurance laws put the burden of medical bills from an auto accident on the driver, and personal injury protection coverage will pay out up to the amount on your policy. Because of this law, you aren’t required to have bodily injury liability coverage or underinsured motorist policies Florida, but you are required to have personal injury protection - i.e. a PIP policy. PIP covers medical expenses and lost wages for anyone who sustains a personal injury in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. This kind of injury protection is a vital part of your car insurance coverage in Florida, but it can be expensive. As a Florida driver, you’ll want to be covered in case of an accident, but it’s going to take some shopping around.
Choosing a policy can be confusing, especially when the requirements can be so different state to state. There are a lot of factors that can affect the price of your policy. Bodily Injury policies and uninsured motorist coverage come standard, but they can be rejected if you choose to waive them in exchange for a lower price. Location is a major factor, and the prices in Florida vary quite a bit, as you will see in this study. So where can you find the cheapest car insurance in Florida? Where will it be more expensive? Let’s dive in.
The study looked at 1,675 car insurance quotes provided by state regulators for each of Florida's 67 counties
Miami-Dade families had the highest average quote: $10,452
Alachua families had the lowest average quote: $4,734
The average quote for a hypothetical family of four with two cars in Florida was $5,665
On average, the gap between the lowest and highest quote among 25 car insurance companies was $9,208
The higher insurance costs in southern Florida can be attributed partially to higher population densities and more prevalent fraud
According to an analysis of data provided by the state Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR), a Florida family of four searching for automobile insurance would on average be quoted the highest prices in Miami-Dade County and would be quoted the lowest prices in Alachua County.
FLOIR data representing car insurance quotes from 25 insurers for each county show that the average quote for a hypothetical family of four would be $10,452 in Miami-Dade County and $4,734 in Alachua County.
The average for all 67 counties was $5,665. This is only $931 more than the lowest price, nearly half the cost of the highest auto insurance rate. The costs of insurance in the cities are a major outlier here, so you should expect a big difference if you’re moving to a denser city.
The government-provided numbers show the sometimes drastic effects location can have on the amount that the average Floridian ends up getting quoted for car insurance premiums.
The data also show how big of a role a family's choice of insurance company can play in how much they end up paying for coverage. All counties saw a pretty huge disparity between the lowest and highest annual auto insurance rates. The average gap between the lowest quote and the highest quote for a given county was a whopping $9,208, underscoring the need for families to compare insurance carriers when buying coverage.
Quote statistics by county: Most expensive to least expensive
|Rank||County||Average||Comparison to Average||Lowest Quote||Highest Quote||FIELD7|
For the analysis, we looked at 1,675 car insurance quotes made available on FLOIR's CHOICES rate comparison system. The family used in the comparison included two married 50-year-olds, their 20-year-old son, and their 18-year-old daughter. The family cars were a Toyota Camry and a Toyota Corolla. (For more details, see the methodology note at the bottom of the page.)
As the map below shows, the priciest areas for coverage were in the southeast and central-west Florida. In most of the other regions, the average county cost was either below the statewide average or less than 5 percent above the statewide average.
Average Premium Map: Countywide vs. Statewide
Map Legend\ County's average quote compared with statewide average\ -20% to -10%\ -10% to 0%\ 0% to +10%\ +10% to +30%\ +30% to +40%\ +40% to +50%\ +50% to +60%\ +60% to +90%
Crashes + Crime + Abuse = Higher Prices
It's to be expected that Miami-Dade and other south Florida cities would have the highest average rate for a car insurance policy; an urban area will have a higher population density—which leads to more traffic congestion and accidents—and relatively high crime rates. Distracted driving is also playing an increased roll here, where more students and inexperienced drivers reside. These are also the areas with the most uninsured drivers(probably because they can’t afford it). Unfortunately, this means better coverage is paramount in these areas, unless you can easily afford a sudden expense.
"South and central Florida have more people on the roads, with several major metro areas interconnected on highways that are often jammed with traffic," explains Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute. "That often means there are more car crashes, along with more thefts and/or vandalism in crowded neighborhoods." The extra risk is a financial liability that will increase the price of your insurance policy.
Another factor costing car insurance companies in Florida millions of dollars is an abuse of the no-fault system, which happens most frequently in bigger cities.
"Bank robber Willie Sutton said he robbed banks 'because that's where the money is.' Fraudsters go to the big cities because that's where the people are," McChristian says. "There has historically been more fraud and abuse of the no-fault auto insurance system in the bigger cities-because more people mean more opportunity for fraudsters to take advantage of the system."
What kind of abuse is taking place in Florida? According to McChristian, there is plenty of data showing high incidences of staged car accidents, and the people involved in those staged accidents then run up high medical bills at "unscrupulous medical clinics" that their insurance company ends up having to pay for.
It's perfectly legal under Florida law for auto insurance companies to charge policyholders different car insurance rates based on where they live. The practice is called "territorial rating," and the only restriction Florida insurers face is that they can't use a single ZIP code as a rating territory, according to a review of state laws by the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research.
What else affects the annual cost of car insurance?
Location is only one of the factors your insurance provider uses to determine your annual car insurance rate, so moving isn’t the only way to find affordable insurance premiums. There are many personal factors that come into play, like your age, sex, marital status, and driving history as a motorist. Insurance companies in Florida will also take the kind of motor vehicle your drive into consideration, as well as whether or not you use it for work.
It should go without saying, but the amount of coverage you receive also affects the price of your premium. An insurance policy with minimum coverage is going to cost less than one with comprehensive and collision, no matter who you are or where you live. When you're finding the best insurance for you, you’ll want to take in the kind of coverage you’re getting. A few extra dollars to go beyond the minimum coverage could make a big difference if you ever need to make a claim on your vehicle. In other words, the cheapest car insurance upfront isn't always the cheapest or best insurance policy for you in the long run.
Your rate isn’t static, either. If you get a speeding ticket on your driving record, your insurer will notice and your rate will go up. If you take a defensive driving course, your rate will usually go down. If you’re in a collision and you need to make a claim, you can expect a hike in your rates, unless you’ve chosen an insurer that offers accident forgiveness.
Overtime, insurance companies usually offer discounts for re-enrollment, and the longer you go without a car accident, the less you will pay for coverage. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t save money by switching providers. It can be a good idea to take advantage of companies offering incentives for switching over, as long as you make sure you’re not trading in for a higher deductible or less coverage.
What can you do to save money?
If you want more than liability insurance, you’re going to have to pay extra. But it’s important you understand what you’re getting before you choose an auto insurance policy. Saving money might mean spending more on a policy that can help you with roadside assistance and repairs from storm damage and other kinds of property damage. Towing is expensive, and not everyone will have the financial stability to pay out of pocket for major repairs that would be covered under a more comprehensive policy - such as full "comprehensive coverage" that would cover other sorts of damage in addition to property damage liability.
But there are plenty of discounts available to help savvy Florida drivers find cheap car insurance. Having good credit history will help, as well as bundling your homeowners insurance or renters insurance with your policy. Paying your premium up front will avoid the fees and interest associated with monthly payments. Of course this isn’t realistic for everyone, especially residents of the urban areas with higher rates.
An insurance agent will let you know what other discounts are available— all you have to do is ask. A good student discount or veteran discount can help out a lot. If you’ve got a brand new car with top of the line safety features, you can expect to pay less. Be thorough and make sure you’ve covered everything before you sign up for insurance coverage.
The more companies you compare, the easier it will be to find a company that works for you. Some of them cater towards high risk drivers (e.g. young drivers and motorists with a spotty driving record), and others offer the best car insurance rates for people with a clean driving record. That’s why it’s important to start comparing auto insurance quotes right away, before you waste time talking to company that’s not right for you.
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Note on methodology: (Return to top)\ All car insurance rates used in this study were found through the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation's CHOICES rate comparison system in late August.
The family profile used for the comparison includes a 50-year-old male married to a 50-year-old female with a 20-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter.
None of the family members had any crashes or violations in the past three years.
They are switching insurers, so it would be a new policy, not a renewing policy, but they have been insured at least for the past three years.
The motor vehicles used for the comparison were a 2012 Toyota Camry driven 12,000 miles per year and a 2007 Toyota Corolla driven 8,000 miles per year.
The policy is for one year and includes the following coverages:
Liability coverage with limits of 25/50/50
PIP coverage with a $10,000 limit and no deductible
Medical payments coverage with a $5,000 limit
Uninsured motorist coverage with limits of 25/50
Comprehensive coverage with a $250 deductible
Collision coverage with a $500 deductible
Twenty-five insurers provided sample insurance premiums for each county. Major insurers such as Allstate, USAA, GEICO, and Progressive were included.
Affiliate Statement: Our writing staff and editors are independent and unbiased, however we do often reference our insurance partners whom we may receive compensation from.
About The Author:
Jeremy Biberdorf is an entrepreneur and personal finance writer from Vancouver, Canada. After getting a computer systems technology diploma and working as a web programmer for 12 years, he pivoted his knowledge of the web into writing about his passion for personal finance, Modest Money. The finance blog started as a part-time side-project, but quickly grew it into a major platform staffed with a team of financial expert contributors. See his Linkedin profile.