Understanding Florida’s Insurance Laws and How They Pertain to Snowbirds
Every year during the winter months, Florida sees an influx of individuals who are commonly referred to as “snowbirds.” These are people who choose to head south for the winter with hopes of enjoying beautiful, snow-free weather. Some may choose to stay a few months, while others may spend at least half a year or more in the Sunshine State.
But there are a few things that snowbirds should keep in mind while visiting Florida for an extended period of time. For example, did you know that there are certain auto insurance laws in place that you will need to know and understand should you find yourself involved in an auto accident while in Florida? Let’s take a closer look at the rules.
Our personal injury lawyers want all snowbirds to know that if they intend to stay and operate their automobiles for more than 90 days in Florida, they must register their car in the state. You should note that when that registration takes place, you will then become subject to all of Florida’s insurance laws, which are typically very different from those covering states up north.
Even if you carry insurance coverage in your home state, you will still need to have an auto insurance policy in Florida to protect you in case of an accident. Likewise, even if an individual simply stores his or her automobile in Florida for a good portion of the year, that individual will still need to carry at least the minimum liability insurance required while the vehicle is in Florida.
Snowbirds should also keep in mind that if they visit the state at various times throughout the year, but their stay is never for 90 consecutive days, they will still need Florida auto insurance if the total days in the state amount to more than 90 days.
So, you’re thinking about just taking your chances and avoiding the hassle of getting Florida insurance coverage? You may want to think again. You should know that if you are caught operating a motor vehicle in Florida without appropriate car insurance, your license can be suspended for a period of up to three years (or until such time as you can show proof of insurance). Additionally, if you want your license reinstated, you will be required to pay a fee that is typically equivalent to the number of violations you have.
Some may think that the laws are too strict; however, they are strict for a good reason.
Studies show that during the winter months, Florida takes in over 900,000 temporary residents from states like Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Canada. That said, if Florida didn’t have such rules, there would be thousands of individuals on Florida roadways who don’t meet state insurance requirements — many of whom have an average stay of approximately five months.
If you are thinking about coming to Florida for a temporary respite from the cold and snow, make sure you understand the laws and rules prior to coming. Contact a personal injury lawyer with the Shiner Law Group if you have questions or concerns.