Do I Have to Buy Florida Auto Insurance If I Live There Part Time?

Map of Florida with a pinTo enter the Sunshine State by car and legally drive within the state's limits, the vehicle must be insured. Whether it will need to be covered by a Florida auto insurance policy depends on whether the car is registered in the state. Drivers who split their place of residence between Florida and another state will need Sunshine State coverage if the vehicle is registered there, even if not in use. Motorists should also note that if they have an automobile in the state for more than 90 days in a 365-day time frame, they will be required to get insured up to the minimum limits required under Florida law. 

​Rules for Cars Registered in Florida

According to state laws, any vehicle with a FL license plate and registration must purchase car insurance in Florida issued by a licensed insurer. This applies even to individuals who may only reside in the state for a few months out of the year. Auto owners who wish to avoid paying for coverage while out of state can surrender the license plate and registration to a tax collector office, and a policy will no longer need to be maintained. Upon returning to the state, vehicle owners can register their cars and provide proof of a valid policy at that time. Motorists should not cancel an existing policy until these items are surrendered, or the penalties for owning a registered and uninsured automobile can apply.

​Rules for Cars Registered Out of State

There are cases where a nonresident motorist may be required to maintain insurance that provides coverage up to Florida's minimums. The state requires that drivers who spend more than 90 days in the state during a 1-year period purchase a policy consisting of personal injury protection and property damage liability with limits of at least $10,000 for each. This regulation applies even if the auto is registered in another state, and the 90 days do not have to be consecutive.

​Possible Penalties

Motorists whose vehicles are registered in FL and fail to comply with these auto insurance laws can face stiff consequences. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is authorized to suspend driving privileges, the vehicle license plate, and registration if the automobile is found not to be properly insured. Suspensions can last up to three years or until valid proof of coverage is provided by the vehicle owner. In addition, a fee will need to be paid to have driving privileges reinstated. The fee is $150 for a first violation and up to $500 for subsequent violations.
Flag shaped as Florida
Drivers should fully understand the car insurance laws of the states that they pass through or frequent. Each state is unique when it comes to complying with automobile coverage, and motorists shouldn't assume that they are fully covered in one state just because they are insured in another. Many vehicle owners are probably unaware Florida laws require that policies of those who have their vehicles there for more than 90 days will need to meet the state's minimum requirements, and are driving illegally.