The Florida Financial Responsibility Law, Explained

Motor Vehicle Insurance (Financial Responsibility)

Missouri law requires that all motor vehicle drivers and owners maintain some type of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage. Unfortunately, each year thousands of Missouri citizens are involved in automobile accidents with drivers who have not maintained the required automobile insurance. This results in unpaid damage claims and higher insurance premium rates for all Missourians.

Missouri motor vehicle owners are required to show proof of insurance when registering a vehicle and renewing their license plates. Liability insurance covers your legal liability when injuries or property damage happen as a result of your actions. The minimum level of coverage required by state law is:

  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per accident for property

The law also requires you to have uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident.

Nonresidents must maintain insurance that conforms to the requirements of the laws of their state.

You must keep some proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. If a law enforcement officer asks for proof of insurance and you cannot show it, the officer may issue you a ticket.

The Department of Revenue will be notified that you do not have insurance on your vehicle or the vehicle you drive if you are in an accident or a police officer asks you to show proof of insurance. At any time, the Department of Revenue may also ask you to prove you have insurance.

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What is personal injury protection?

Personal injury protection (PIP) is required for drivers in possession of a vehicle over 90 days and in a minimum limit of $10,000. For vehicles registered as taxis, the required limits are $125,000 per person and $250,000 per occurrence.PIP covers 80% of costs for any significant injuries totaling more than $2,500 in damages, regardless of which driver was at fault. The types of damages covered include:
  • Medical bills

  • Disability

  • Survivor’s loss

  • Funeral costs

  • Lost income

Personal injury protection pays out quickly without involving outside insurance companies, which is a great benefit to individuals needing to pay for medical care and related expenses quickly.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

Florida requires drivers to have additional insurance in case they have previously caused accidents that injured someone or have been convicted of driving under the influence or certain other offenses. This is called bodily injury liability coverage. It amounts to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per crash.

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Suspension/Reinstatement for Failure to Maintain Insurance

Statutory references: Sections 303.042 through 303.044, RSMo.

If your driving privilege and/or license plates are suspended for not having insurance, the following suspension periods will apply:

  • 1st suspension = 0 days
  • 2nd suspension in two years = 90 days
  • 3rd and subsequent suspension = 1 year

After you serve the period of suspension, your driver license and/or license plates can be reinstated if the Driver License Bureau receives the following:

3rd and subsequent suspension

Proof of insurance must be maintained and filed with the Department of Revenue for a period of three years following the end of the suspension. If you fail to maintain proof of insurance, the Driver License Bureau will again suspend your driver license and/or license plates. The suspension will remain in effect for the remainder of the three years unless you refile proof of insurance and pay a $20 reinstatement fee.

NOTE: If an accident is involved, an SR-22 filing is required for proof of liability insurance. An identification card is not acceptable.

Understanding Financial Responsibility Law

Almost all states mandate some level of automobile liability insurance coverage by individual vehicle owners. Currently, only New Hampshire and Virginia do not require some level of such liability insurance coverage.

In instances where an accident has occurred and the person at fault does not have insurance coverage, financial responsibility laws prevent the burden from falling entirely on the non-guilty party.  

Many states consider an individual with an insurance policy to be compliant with a financial responsibility law. This is because most insurance policies have a minimum coverage limit that meets the state standard. In some states, this proof of insurance coverage or some proof of financial responsibility is required to register a vehicle.

Depending on the state, a surety bond can serve as an alternative to insurance coverage to satisfy financial responsibility laws. Some states will hold a cash deposit from the vehicle owner instead of requiring insurance. A business that maintains a fleet of vehicles operated by employees might be allowed to self-insure to comply with financial responsibility laws. The self-insurance option is typically not made available to individuals.

In Virginia, an individual can pay an uninsured motor vehicle fee of $500 at the time of vehicle registration. This does not remove financial responsibility from the owner if there is an accident with the vehicle. It also doesn't provide them with any form of insurance coverage. Virginia’s uninsured motor vehicle fee is valid for 12 months.

In states like New Hampshire and Virginia that do not require auto insurance minimums by law, there are often other expenses that replace these savings, such as the responsibility to cover damages in an accident or the requirement to pay the state $500 per year, respectively.

Florida No-Fault Insurance

The insurance coverage that’s required for all drivers falls under the no-fault system. When you’re in a crash, your own insurance is meant to cover you so that you can get immediate, no-hassle payment for your personal losses. All drivers who live in Florida or have a car in Florida for 90 days of the year have to have this kind of insurance.

What Is the Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirement Under the Financial Responsibility Law?

In Florida, the minimum insurance coverage requirement under the financial responsibility law is $100,000 per person for bodily injury [2], $300,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $50,000 for property damage per accident. The minimum insurance requirements apply for three years for anyone convicted of drunk driving after October 1, 2007.

The minimum insurance coverage requirements under the financial responsibility law are above and in addition to the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and property damage insurance that all drivers must carry. Only drivers who meet qualifying events must carry the minimum insurance coverage of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident bodily injury, and $50,000 in property damage.

Proving You Have Coverage

Most—but not all—states require drivers to purchase car insurance. But all states do have financial responsibility laws. These laws are in place to protect all drivers by requiring drivers to prove they are financially able to pay for an accident. Most drivers comply with financial responsibility laws by purchasing car insurance.

You may be asked to show you comply with the state's requirements:

  • After you have been involved in a car accident
  • When reinstating your driver’s license after it has been suspended or revoked
  • When a police officer requests to see it
  • When you register your car

Every state is a bit different but an insurance binder is always proof that you have purchased insurance. In some states, you can comply with your state’s financial responsibility laws in other ways than buying car insurance. Your proof of meeting the responsibility law can be in the form of an automobile insurance ID card or a binder of car insurance. The binder is the temporary evidence an insurance provider will give you as you await the underwriting of your full policy.

Another way to meet the requirement is through a surety bond. A surety is a guarantee that you can assume responsibility—it functions in the same way as an auto insurance policy.

You may also be able to use proof of a cash deposit. This evidence shows you have deposited the minimum amount of funds required with an approved state agency, such as the state Comptroller's Office or the state's Office of Insurance.

Also, some large companies or individuals who own a fleet of cars may use a certificate of self-insurance. Again, you will need to deposit a substantial sum with an approved state agency to receive a certificate.

In almost every case, purchasing car insurance is the best way to comply with financial responsibility laws. Car insurance not only provides financial protection for you when you are in an accident but will also provide for legal defense if the situation calls for it.

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