Steven A. Bagen | April 3, 2023 | Motorcycle accident
Insurance requirements for motorcyclists in Florida are confusing at best. Simply put, state law does not explicitly require motorcyclists to insure their bikes. However, the matter is much more complicated, and riders who get into accidents or pulled over without proper proof of financial responsibility can face serious penalties. You also might need insurance when you travel outside the state. Florida doesn’t require motorcycle insurance, but other states do.
While there are no requirements for motorcycle insurance, riders must register their vehicles with the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). The law also assumes that bikers will have a way to pay for any losses if an accident occurs, which is why motorcycle insurance is a strong recommendation.
Motorcycle accidents can result in extensive injuries and losses. Without insurance, an uninsured or underinsured driver’s actions can leave you bankrupt. If you have questions about motorcycle coverage or suffered injuries in a crash, immediately speak with a Florida motorcycle accident attorney about your rights and options.
Registering with the DMV and Financial Responsibility Requirements
While the law does not require you to purchase insurance coverage for a motorcycle, you must provide proof of financial responsibility when registering your motorcycle with the DMV. You must also have proof of financial responsibility if the police pull you over or you are in an accident.
You must prove that you meet one of the three options for financial responsibility outlined in Florida Statutes 324.031, or you can face penalties.
Here are three ways to prove financial responsibility as a motorcycle rider in Florida:
- Purchase liability insurance: The most common and smartest option for riders is to purchase liability insurance from a licensed Florida insurance carrier. Liability insurance covers any damage caused by your fault to others and breaks down into damage to property and damage to the body of others. If you purchase bodily injury liability insurance, you can also purchase uninsured motorist coverage, which protects you from other drivers who don’t carry insurance. Shopping around and speaking with various insurers is important to get the best rates. We recommend you purchase coverage with a minimum of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $10,000 for property damage.
- Self-insurance certificate: If you can prove to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) that you have sufficient personal financial resources to qualify as “self-insured,” you can get a self-insurance certificate from them. This means you have enough money to pay someone else if you injure them in an accident. Florida Statutes 324.171 lays out the financial requirements for this. The main requirement is that you have $40,000 in net unencumbered assets. If you choose this option and cause an accident, the injured party will seek to recover their damages directly from your assets, which can put you in a vulnerable position. We recommend that you purchase liability insurance instead.
- Financial responsibility certificate: The FLHSMV offers a second option for obtaining a self-insurance certificate. In the past, you could get a surety bond through the FLHSMV after depositing a certain sum to meet this requirement. However, the Florida Legislature eliminated this option ten years ago. Now, you can get a self-insurance certificate from the FLHSMV by submitting proof of a certificate of deposit of $30,000 and power of attorney over that deposit issued to the FLHSMV, as outlined in Florida Statutes 324.161.
Even though traditional insurance coverage is not mandatory for all Florida motorcyclists, having the ability to cover losses in an accident is necessary.
Penalties for Not Having Proof of Financial Responsibility as a Motorcyclist in Florida
If you don’t have the necessary proof of financial responsibility, you can face stiff penalties, including the suspension of your driving privileges or motorcycle endorsement, the suspension of your motorcycle registration and tag, and having to purchase mandatory liability coverage for up to three years.
Additionally, if you cause damage to the property or person of another, they may seek damages from your assets and get a civil judgment against you. Therefore, you must always have proof of financial responsibility before you hit the road on your motorcycle in Florida.
While this is to manage the financial risks of others on the road, having proper coverage also ensures you have coverage if you suffer injuries. If someone else causes a crash and does not have coverage, you want your own insurance to fall back on.
Should you buy motorcycle insurance?
Yes, most will recommend that riders purchase insurance. One recommendation is to have a policy that is 50/100/25 or known as full coverage. Having a full coverage policy includes collision and comprehensive coverage and pertains to all riders. Collision covers repair costs when you are in an accident. Comprehensive covers non-accident damage to your bike, like vandalism, natural disasters, or theft. Without these coverages, you will have to pay for any damage yourself.
You can also purchase liability-only insurance, which covers damages other riders incur during an accident. However, this can leave you vulnerable if you suffer injuries due to another driver with inadequate coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage
Florida law does not require underinsured motorists coverage for any vehicle, but it is important. In recent years, Florida had the sixth-highest rate of uninsured drivers, with more than 20 percent of drivers not having proper coverage.
Insurance minimums are also lower than in other states, leaving injured motorcyclists vulnerable during crashes. If you are in a crash due to an uninsured or underinsured driver, you want the right coverage on your end. You should get as much coverage as you can purchase and shop around for different options. Since many motorcycle accidents result in exorbitant losses, you want high policy limits.
Some insurance companies will offer other benefits within your policy. Roadside assistance will cover a breakdown anywhere in the United States, and you can have your vehicle towed to the nearest repair shop. “Carried contents” covers personal property damage during an accident. It also covers stolen property from your motorcycle. You can also opt for enhanced injury protection, which provides weekly payment for two years if your injury leaves you out of work.
Total loss coverage will provide financial payment to replace your bike no older than one model year. You will receive the full manufacturer’s retail price for a new motorcycle. You will get the full payment, excluding your insurance deductible. Lastly, you can also get custom parts and equipment coverage. Any upgrades or customizations you’ve made to your bike can have coverage up to a predetermined amount.
Seasonal motorcycle insurance
Since Florida is sunny and does not have many seasonal changes, this coverage might not apply to all riders. Some insurance companies offer seasonal coverage for the months that you will use your bike, but others do not offer this coverage in states like Florida, where you can ride year-round. In other states, you might drop seasonal coverage if you are not riding during the winter months.
No-fault insurance coverage
Florida operates under no-fault insurance laws for four-wheeled vehicles. Under the requirement, drivers must have PIP coverage that pays for injuries during an accident regardless of fault. No-fault insurance coverage does not apply to motorcycles because they only have two wheels. Instead of the standard no-fault coverage, your best bet is to have motorcycle insurance. However, you can still file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company seeking compensation if they are at fault and have proper coverage.
Costs of motorcycle insurance
The cost of your policy will depend on several variables, making the price an individual calculation.
When giving you an estimate, the insurance companies will consider:
- Age: younger drivers are still learning and gaining experience, so the insurance company will charge them more for coverage.
- Location: where you live or register your bike will impact your insurance rate. Your policy will also vary based on living costs and accident statistics.
- Driving record: clean driving records without accidents, traffic violations, and other harmful items can get you a better rate. This is the most significant factor in your insurance rate.
- Gender: female drivers tend to have a better driving history and will often have lower rates than males.
- Value: if you are buying collision coverage, it covers damage to your vehicle based on its value. A newer bike is worth more and will cost more to insure. Older bikes with lower values will cost less to insure.
- Use: how often you ride will also impact your rates. You pay more when you ride more, meaning daily riders have high rates. If you only ride seasonally or here and there, your rates are likely lower.
Never allow the cost of premiums to prevent you from buying the necessary coverage. Should an accident occur with an uninsured driver, you need the right insurance policy.
Helmet laws and motorcycle insurance
If you choose to ride your bike without a helmet, Florida requires that you purchase insurance coverage. You must meet the minimum insurance of 10/20/10 to ride without a helmet. While your helmet usage will impact your insurance requirements, it should not affect your ability to seek damages in an accident claim.
Aside from your helmet, you can use other protective gear when riding. Florida requires specific equipment on every motorcycle on the road.
Your motorcycle equipment should includes:
- Turn signals
- Font and rear brakes
- Headlight and brake light
- Rear reflectors
While these are legal requirements, they are also beneficial for your safety and make riding fun. Riders cannot wear any listening device in or near their ears while riding, excluding hearing devices.
Even if you are as safe as possible, you cannot always avoid an accident with a negligent driver, and you can suffer serious injuries.
Risks for Florida motorcycle riders
Florida can seem like the ideal place for motorcyclists, but riding here also has many hazards. Dangerous driving behaviors happen everywhere you look and are a common cause of motorcycle accidents. Heavy traffic is all over the state, especially during the summer when families travel and many people visit Florida.
Since this is a prime vacation destination, many residents can grow frustrated with tourists on the roads and engage in dangerous driving.
Seemingly counterintuitive, the weather is also hazardous to drivers. Florida is the Sunshine State, but the weather is unpredictable, especially in the summer. Midday showers are common, and hurricane season is in full force. The roads will become slick, and that can cause other drivers to lose control and strike you.
Conversely, while you will want to enjoy the sunshine, it can be another hindrance. Sunlight can decrease visibility, making it challenging for drivers to see motorcycles. Since bikes have a smaller profile than four-wheeled vehicles, they are often harder to see on clear days. When the sunshine is bright, it only increases the hazards to riders.
Filing a motorcycle accident claim
Motorcyclists can pursue compensation for damages resulting from a crash due to another driver’s negligence. You can file a claim and hold negligent drivers and others responsible for your injuries and losses.
When you have severe injuries from a motorcycle crash, the last thing you should do is try to navigate the insurance claim process alone. Insurance companies can be difficult, and you need a legal advocate. Speaking with a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer is in your best interest.
After an accident, call a Florida motorcycle accident attorney
Your insurance coverage does not affect your right to seek compensation for your injuries from a negligent driver. When you speak with a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer, they can identify your options to seek compensation for your loss. This might involve at-fault claims, uninsured motorist claims, and more.
Time is limited, and injured motorcyclists often have an uphill battle to obtain the financial recovery they deserve. Call personal injury lawyer in Gainesville for an initial consultation immediately.