Do you plan to live in Florida for at least 90 days this year? Do you plan to take your vehicle with you? If so, there are specific DMV and insurance requirements you must follow. Read on for information that could help you avoid a ticket and might save you money on car insurance.
What Is a Snowbird?
Nearly one million people (often retired) move from cold northern states to the sunshine of Florida every winter. In fact, Florida’s population typically increases by 5% each year during snowbird season, which is from October – May.
While some people head south for a few weeks or months to escape winter’s grasp, others stay longer. They may rent or purchase a living space that becomes their winter home away from home for several months.
Those who choose to stay longer often take their vehicles with them so they can maintain their freedom to travel where they want when they want.
If you’re a snowbird who is planning an extended stay in Florida this year—one that lasts at least 90 consecutive or non-consecutive days—and you plan to drive your vehicle, you MUST a) register your vehicle with the Florida DMV and b) get auto insurance from a Florida-based insurance agent.
Let’s dive into these requirements a bit more.
Vehicle Registration in Florida
All states require drivers to register their vehicles. If you have a second home, like snowbirds Russell and his wife Amy who live eight months in Pennsylvania and four months in Florida, you must register your vehicle in both states (if you take your vehicle with you).
Contact the Florida DMV for specific information regarding your situation, the documents required for registration, and whether you qualify for Florida resident status.
However, before you can register your vehicle in Florida, you must first have auto insurance that meets Florida requirements.
Florida Insurance Requirements
Most drivers are aware that as long as they have auto insurance in their home state, they are covered even if they are passing through another state and get into an accident. However, many snowbirds don’t realize that once they move to their winter home, Florida law requires them to purchase insurance coverage from an insurance company and agent licensed in Florida.
So, Russell and Amy must maintain their existing car insurance in Pennsylvania and also contact a Florida-based insurance agent to purchase coverage for their Florida stay. It is okay to use the same insurance provider for both plans, as long as the company is licensed in each state.
Minimum Insurance Coverage
In Florida, you must have a car insurance policy that offers at least $10,000 in protection against property damage liability and at least $10,000 in protection against personal injury.
Liability insurance pays the bills when you’re at fault in an accident. Keep in mind that these minimums are low. If you maintain only the minimum insurance coverage and cause a serious accident that totals more than the policy coverage, you could be looking at out-of-pocket expenses. Speak with your insurance agent about coverage that’s right for you.
Penalties for Failing to Meet Florida Requirements
What happens if you fail to follow these Florida legal requirements?
If you get caught driving your car in Florida without the proper insurance and registration, you could face a license and registration suspension of up to three years.
This is the maximum penalty, no matter how many times you violate this. However, you are more likely to get something closer to the maximum penalty if you are a repeat offender.
The other aspect of this that you need to keep in mind are fines that you may have to pay.
A fine for your first offense with this is $150 to reinstate you. The second time this happens, that fee goes up to $250. The third or more frequent times this happens to you, that fee goes up to $500.
Save Money with DriveSafe Online
Completing a DriveSafe Online defensive driving course can reward you with a discount on auto insurance. Just submit your completion certificate to your insurance agent. You may be able to save up to 10% on your insurance premium for three consecutive years.
In fact, Florida law requires an insurance discount for drivers 55+ who complete a safe driver course. Enjoy the warm Florida weather and enjoy more money in your pocket. Get more information or start your savings journey now!