Insurance in Florida | Frequently Asked Questions
Stay safe et do not wait to report a claim.
You might also need to take temporary measures in order to avoid an extension of the damages. Keep all corresponding receipts.
When you file a claim, an expert will determine if you are covered and the amount of your damage. Remember to always keep your renovation bills, furniture receipt handy even if your House or Condominium was destroyed, meaning always better to have an e-copy stored outside of your home (think cloud !).
The compensation will notably depend on the type of valuation
- “ACV – Actual Cash Value”: the expert will take into account the value for purchase, reduced by depreciation. After a few years, your furniture or electronic equipment are not worth so much…
- “Replacement cost”: for your assets, you will be reimbursed a new value, namely, the purchase price on the day of the claim. This type of compensation is much more favourable to the insured person than the previous, but it is not always available and is obviously much more expensive.
Good to know: the “dwelling” and “contents” are often measured by different methods. Your broker is there to explain what is expected in your contract.
A multitude of factors influence the price of your insurance. Those that have the greatest impact are:
- Amount of coverage: limits and deductible
- Type of compensation: replacement cost or present value (actual cash value or ACV).
- Perils covered by your policy (theft, hurricane…).
- Usage of your home: primary (where you are living all year-round) or seasonal or rental property?
- Type and year of construction.
- Protection features and devices in your home: fire-alarms, anti-theft, hurricane windows…
- To make sure you benefit from all credits available, have a 4-point inspection and wind mitigation report handed to your agent.
Take time to compare the available options and make sure the coverage you select is sufficient and you can afford the deductible you will select.
In a home insurance: This is the part of your contract (called Coverage A) which covers the cost of reconstruction/repair of your home in case of damage due to a covered risk. A dwelling consists of all of the buildings that form part of the residence.
Good to know: the detached buildings (garage, shed) are subject separately to a guarantee limit.
The insurance amount (limit) you buy must be sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding your House in the event of total destruction. Do not confuse this amount with the market value which includes the price of the land that is never covered by your contract.
Pay attention to not be “over-insured”, certain contracts provide for penalties if on the day of the accident you are found to be in this situation.
In a condominium insurance: “Dwelling” of your contract coverage is “wall to wall”: the work of renovation, household appliances, cupboards or fixed permanent furniture.
Feel free to discuss with your broker to the amount of coverage you need.
If you own a condominium, the common parts are covered by the policy taken out by the association.
In a traditional condominium insurance, you are usually covered for personal belongings inside the condominium as well as the renovations you have made.
Standard contracts for condominiums are called HO6 (if you are eligible). In many cases, and especially for a seasonal or company residence, you will be eligible for a DP3. Ask your broker to explain precisely the amount of your benefits and risks for which you are covered.
Most common way to insure a condo-unit is through an HO6 policy. It will cover your belongings inside your unit (coverage C) and part of your unit not covered by the insurance of the association (coverage A). It will include liability coverage.
The contract signed by your association will define what is covered by their master policy. Ask your association for a description of their insurance or their regulations (by-laws) in order to know what is their responsibility. If you have trouble getting this document, contact the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes, at (850) 488-1122.
The Association´s master policy generally does not cover what is inside your unit:
- The walls, floor and ceiling.
- The electric devices.
- Electric home appliances.
- The water-heater and water-filters.
- Work-tops and built-in closets
- Processing and window equipment (blinds, curtains…).
If an item is covered by the Association’s contract and by your own insurance contract, the Association’s insurance will occur first.
Associations may consider the condominium owners responsible for damage to common assets not covered by the association’s insurance. The amount covered by your individual policy for this “loss assessment” varies, but by law in Florida must include a minimum of $ 2,000.
Always check the amount of your coverage with your agent.
This is the portion of the loss payable by the policy holder. The deductible amount might de different according to the peril covered: in Florida, there is:
- a hurricane deductible amount, expressed as a percentage of your coverage (and not of the loss);
- an “any other perils” deductible amount, for all other perils covered by your policy;
- and sometimes a 3rd deductible for water damages (we’re not talking about flood here, which is always covered by a separate policy).
The amount of your deductible can be found on the “Declarations page” of your policy.
1/ Discuss with your agent to make sure that the amount of insurance you carry is sufficient to cover your assets. Ask yourself these questions before to decide on the type of policy or coverage:
- What amount can I afford to pay in case of a claim?
- Is the reconstruction cost of my home adequate and up to date?
- Are my furniture and electronic equipment new or are they old?
- Do I have valuables such as jewelry or arts at home?
- Am I covered in case of flood?
2/ Save and protect the evidence which will be requested in case of disaster:
- Keep them outside of your property so that they are accessible even if your home is destroyed or inaccessible.
- Make photos or video of your property.
- Keep your bills.
3 / Protect your property and your assets:
- Prune your trees around your House regularly and cut back those which could damage your roof. Be particularly cautious with the approach of the hurricane season. Remember that in case of a storm, a simple coconut sometimes turns into a fatal projectile!
- When you are away for a long time, ask a neighbor or friend who you can trust, to come regularly to inspect your property. A simple small leak can be disastrous if it is not repaired promptly.
- If you declared that you have protections such as alarm systems or fire protection, enable them before you leave home. Your insurer could refuse your claim or limit compensation otherwise.
- In case of a hurricane warning, secure windows and doors and collect all of your outdoor furniture. Follow all the instructions given by local authorities.
It is indeed recommended, so that you can provide complete documentation to your insurance company if you make a claim.
- Make a list of your assets, piece by piece, not to mention your closets, garage, sheds, patio… Take photographs of the most important items and keep your receipts.
- Keep these documents outside of your property so that they are accessible even if your home is destroyed or inaccessible
Most common “Wind-Damage Mitigation Features” which provide a discount to your HO policy are:
- Doors and windows designed to withstand the pressure of the wind and projectiles.
- Shutters or panels that protect your windows and other openings to wind, rain and projectiles.
- Materials used as cover for your roof are designed to withstand high winds and waterproofing.
- The system of fastening the roof to the walls is designed to avoid that the roof is “blown away” by an extreme wind.
- Forms of roofing and building that are more resistant to wind.
A certified “Wind Mitigation” Inspector can make a report with protections installed at your home. If you live in a condominium, the Association must give you this document if you request it. Protections will allow you to get discounts on your insurance.
Do not rely on the purchase price of the home, the amount of your loan or the amount assessed by your “tax appraiser”. To be sure, your house or condo unit must be covered for the cost of rebuilding/renovation in the event of a total destruction, taking into account the actual price of materials and labor. In addition, you will need to provide the additional cost to be in compliance with the current code of your county when making repairs.
Do not forget that certain policies include a penalty if, on the day of the accident, the amount of your coverage is too low.
For your personal belongings, make a list of their value to know the right amount of insurance needed.
Remember to tell your agent if you have any jewelry, musical instruments, antiques or other objects of value which will generally be subject of an additional provision to your policy.
- Call the competent authorities: if someone is injured in your home, call 911 immediately. If you see a theft or break-in, call the police.
- Then contact your insurer or your agent as quickly as possible. Once you have contacted your insurer, they will send you documents to fill in, do not delay in returning them. If you waste time you may lose your right to compensation.
- Take precautions so that your assets are not damaged and keep receipts for expenses. Do not engage in any expenses or repairs in addition to those emergency measures, before approval from your insurer who has the right to inspect the home before that you undertake to do anything.
- Do not throw any damaged furniture away prior to the visit of the Inspector (adjuster). Alternatively, you can take photographs or videos of the damage.
- List the damaged property and gather all your documents that you have taken care to store in a safe place.
- List the damaged property and gather all your documents that you have taken care to store in a safe place.
Your insurance broker is there to assist you and advise you!
Florida State laws:
- If your car or motorcycle is registered in Florida, you must take out an insurance for the State of Florida.
- If you live more than 90 days of the year in Florida (not necessarily consecutive), you must take out insurance that respects the laws of Florida.
In all cases, it is important to pay attention to your coverage for your vehicle, but more importantly, for your liability if you were at fault in an accident as well.
Florida auto insurance laws are partially regulated by the Department of Highways: http://www.flhsmv.gov/DDL/frfaqgen.html
If you have your car insurance in your country of residence, contact your broker before your trip, make sure that your level of insurance is favourably adjusted.
The laws of Florida which you are subject to, impose the following depending on your situation:
- “Personal Injury Coverage” insurance known as PIP of at least $10,000 (this insurance is for medical expenses of the driver and his passengers – under certain conditions –) WITHOUT any fault condition. This means that the PIP comes first, even if the accident is caused by a third party. Florida makes this insurance compulsory, like 20 other States in the United States.
- A liability of $10,000; This minimum is surprisingly low but is increased based on the history of the driver (for example, if he already had an accident the minimum is increased to $ 30,000, if he had a DUI, the amount is increased to $300,000…).
Therefore, ensure that these criteria are met by having a car insurance. We strongly advise you to opt for a higher value than the minimum coverage required by law.
In addition to these legal minimums, take into consideration:
- “Uninsured Motorists” or “UM” option that will cover you if the other party is at fault and does not have insurance, or carries low coverage, whether tangible or material. This insurance is also valid in the case of a “hit and run” (the person runs away). Uninsured driving is a scourge and especially important in Florida, where roughly 24% are estimated not to carry insurance.
- Collision and comprehensive which would cover your car.
The coverages you selected and bought are listed on the “Declarations page” of your policy.
Most common coverage are listed below. Some are mandatory (see here), some are optional.
- “Bodily Injury Liability or BI” – mandatory in Florida: covers expenses as a result of injuries or death caused to others in an accident for which you are liable. If you are attacked in court, your insurer will also cover the costs for legal procedure.
- “Property Damage Liability (PD)” mandatory in Florida: covers damage to property for which the insured is liable.
- “Personal Injury Protection (PIP)” mandatory in Florida: covers a percentage of medical expenses due to an injury, without considering responsibility or fault. Be aware for this coverage to be activated, the injured person must go to the doctor within 14 days of the accident ; otherwise the benefits are reduced.
- “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM)”: covers you for your medical expenses if your injury or illness was caused by an accident and that the responsible person had no insurance or had an insurance level too low to cover your expenses. Not required in Florida, but strongly recommended in view of the high proportion of drivers driving without insurance (estimated at 24%). This insurance can also be activated in the case of a “hit and run” (when the driver fled from the scene of an accident).
- “Medical Payments (Med Pay)”: covers expenses of health injuries caused by a car accident, regardless of which party is at fault.
- “Comprehensive or Other Than Collision (OTC)”: reimburses the damage to your vehicle other than a collision incident, for example in case of a fire, theft, hurricane, flood, vandalism… This coverage also includes damage caused by the fall of an object or a collision with an animal. This coverage is subject to a deductible, from $250 up to $1,000 or more.
- “Collision”: Reimburses the cost of repair or the current value of the vehicle damaged in a collision with another vehicle or other object (other than an animal) or in the case of a barrel if you are responsible or not. This coverage is subject to a deductible, from $250 up to $1,000 or more.
- “Towing & Labour”: covers your costs if you call to the Emergency Department on the road. The conditions and amount of support for towing and repairs vary according to your policy.
- “Rental Reimbursement”: you are reimbursed for the costs of renting a car if your car is being repaired as a result of accident or if it was stolen. The conditions and amount of coverage vary according to your policy.
This is the portion of the damages payable by the contract’s insured person until insurance intervention. The amount is different according to the risk covered: so there is a Collision amount, an amount for Other Than Collision, and finally an amount for the PIP.
The amounts of your deductibles are on your contract’s page entitled “Declarations page”.
YES. A car registered in Florida must be covered at any given time by insurance in Florida for the duration of its registration.
If you want to cancel your insurance while you are not in Florida, you would need to surrender your plates ownership record to the nearest registration office. On your return, you will need to re-register your vehicle by providing proof of insurance.
Remember that you are always legally responsible for your vehicle.
Yes, anyone who owns a vehicle in Florida for more than 90 days (consecutive or not) during the year, must be insured according to the laws of Florida.
YES. As long as your vehicle is registered and kept in Florida, you must have an insurance.
A multitude of factors influence the price of your insurance. Among those that have the greatest impact are:
- The type and age of the vehicle.
- Drivers: age, experience, type of license, history, profession…
- Your accident history or breaches of the highway code.
- Your license according to whether it is an international or Florida one.
- The level of coverage: insurance (limits) and excess amounts
- The type of compensation: value to nine (replacement cost) or present value (actual cash value) or risk covered by your contract (collision, other than collision…)
- The use of your car: for recreation, for work. The number of kilometres you travel per year.
Good to know: If your child is a good student, he will receive a credit on his insurance premium!
Compare the options offered to you by your insurance broker well, and make sure that the coverage level you select is sufficient.
If during your contract, you change some of these points, please remember to inform your broker.
Bon à savoir : si votre enfant est bon élève, il recevra un crédit sur sa prime d’assurance !
Si pendant votre contrat vous changez certains de ces points, pensez à informer votre courtier.
Comparez bien les options qui vous sont proposées par votre courtier d’assurances et vérifiez que le niveau de garantie que vous choisissez est suffisant.
Yes, when you lend your vehicle, you lend your insurance! Your friend must of course be in possession of a valid driver’s license.
Attention all residents routinely living in your home must be declared to your insurance company and be insured.
Motorcycles can be covered under a special contract or can be added to your car insurance policy. Ask your broker which applies in your case.
Most of the coverages available to a motorcycle are the same as for a car with the notable exception of the PIP insurance. Note that the PIP on your car’s insurance does not cover you when you drive your motorcycle.
Florida law allows you to ride without a helmet if you are more than 21 years old and if you have health insurance to cover your medical expenses in case of accident of at least $10,000. We encourage you to always wear a helmet regardless of your route and weather conditions. The passengers and drivers under 21 years of age must wear a helmet, without exception.
On the other hand, it is required by law to wear glasses or goggles for protection approved by the DMV when you drive a motorcycle. In addition, you must turn on the lights of your motorbike as soon as you ride on the road, day and night. Finally, if you have a passenger, your motorcycle must be equipped with footrests.
More information on the subject:
This means that each party involved in the accident has a share of the responsibility. Compensation will be in proportion to the negligence of each.
- Don’t leave the scene; call the police (911) immediately even if the incident seems minor
- Note the names and contact details of any witnesses present, your insurance company may need to contact them.
- At the scene, do not sign any papers requested by the other driver, and do not propose to repair the damage “amicably.” Do not recognize any wrongdoing and stay calm.
- Wait for the arrival of the police and ensure that the officer gives you a copy of the “Exchange of Information Form”.
- As soon as you are able to do so, contact your broker or insurance company to report the accident. Do not delay.
- Finally, be sure to see a doctor soon after the accident, even for a routine visit.
Yes, you can register your vehicle in Florida and you do not need to have a driver’s license from Florida for that. The procedure is explained here: https://www.flhsmv.gov/
Important: as long as your car is registered in Florida you will need insurance for Florida. If you wish to cancel your insurance when you leave Florida, you must remove the license plates and drop them off at a local agency. When you return again, you can pick them up at your local agency by providing proof of insurance.
If you are not a resident of the State of Florida, you need to have a valid license issued by your country of residence (State). An international driving license is not required for driving in Florida, but can be handy if your country of residence license is not written in English.
On the other hand, if you become a Resident of Florida, you must obtain a license in Florida.
The law is very strict in Florida regarding the consumption of alcohol or any substance that influences behaviour. If you go out and plan to drink, it is better to use a taxi or transport company or a friend who does not drink and drive!
The threshold is 0.08 g / 100 ml of blood. The achievement of this threshold varies based on your height and weight but happens much faster than you think.
If you are stopped and told “DUI – Driving Under the Influence” and intoxicated, the penalties are many.
- Fines: $ 500 to 1,000 for a 1st offense.
- Maximum 6 months’ imprisonment for a 1st offense.
Moreover, these offences will remain on your record for a very long time, which will have many impacts your daily life in the USA… and on your car insurance!
The risks that your policy covers vary according to the contract that you choose. Generally, fire, hurricane, lightning, theft, vandalism are covered, BUT attention to look specifically at your contract: certain types exclude hurricanes, although it is a major risk in Florida, others will exclude theft…
Earthquakes and floods are excluded from your housing contract. These coverages can be added under an additional contract. Flooding is a major risk in Florida, even if your home is not in a flood-risk area. Think about it, especially if you live near a body of water, such as a Lake, canal, ocean…
We’re here to explain the coverages and exclusions of your contract.
Whether you own or rent your home, you need to make sure you have home insurance should any damage be sustained to your property or should your liability be called to question following an accident on your property.
Home insurance protects you if your home suffers damage and/or, depending on the contract, your exposure for liability.
On the page of your contract entitled “Declarations’ page”, you will find the different coverages and the amount for which you are covered.
- “Dwelling”: is the insurance on the House or, of your apartment in the case of a condominium.
- “Other Structures on Your Property ‘: are the buildings on your property, for example a garage or a shelter.
- “Personal Property/Contents”: your personal assets on your property.
- “Loss of Use”: compensation you will receive if you cannot use your home due to a claim covered by your contract, during the necessary restoration time.
- “Liability”: protects you if you are found legally responsible for an accident causing personal injury or damage to the property of others. This coverage does not extend to the members of your family who live with you, or damage caused by or in a vehicle, nor does it cover, professional activities in your home.
- “Medical Payments”: covers the medical bills of those injured on your property, without any consideration of civil liability (i.e. this coverage can be paid, even if you are not found responsible for the accident). As with the liability section, this coverage does not extend to members of your family who live with you, or damage caused by or in a vehicle, nor does it cover professional activities in your home.
There are two main types of home insurance in Florida: “Homeowners” and “DP”. Depending on your situation, you will be eligible for one or the other of these types of contract. Beware, the guarantees vary greatly from one type of contract to the other. Be sure to understand your coverage by talking with your broker.
With Intergroupe USA,
No surprises come claim time.
We will take the time to fully explain the conditions and exclusions of your contract in French or English as you prefer.
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