Florida is the 18th most affordable state to buy auto insurance in the United States, with an average annual insurance rate of $1364. Some cities in Florida, however, have extremely high auto insurance rates. Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are the most expensive cities in Florida in terms of auto insurance, while Tallahassee, Sarasota and Ocala are the most affordable cities. Even in the most affordable cities, you could be charged with exorbitant insurance rates under certain circumstances. Accidents and other traffic violations, for example, could lead to high premiums. Drunk driving charges will also result in increases on your premiums.
As of January 2014, the average annual auto insurance rate in Tallahassee is $1149. If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense, however, your premium will be increased to $2137. In Ocala, your premium will increase from $1168 to $2172. In Hillsborough and Sarasota, you could end up paying $2316 and $2325 per year to insure your car after a drunk driving conviction on your record.
In cities such as Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and especially Miami, a drunk driving conviction will result in an astronomical increase in your insurance rates. In Jacksonville, the average insurance rate is $1426, while the increased premium is $2652. In Fort Lauderdale, a drunk driving conviction increases average insurance rates from $1746 to $3248. In Miami, where the average insurance rate is already very high ($2526), an alcohol-related offense on your record could increase your premium to $4698.
There are some ways to bring down your insurance rates. One of the best ways to do so is by taking a defensive driving course. On completion of a defensive driving course, your insurance rates would come down to $3993 in Miami, $2761 in Fort Lauderdale, and $2254 in Jacksonville. In Tallahassee and Ocala, this would bring your insurance rates down to $1816 and $1846, respectively. Moreover, taking this course will also help you become a better driver.
Average insurance costs rose a whopping 69.9 percent in Florida in the 21-year period starting 1989 to 2010. The national average rose by 43.3 percent during that period. This places Florida on the list of thirty eight states where average costs went up by more than the national average. In dollar terms, the average auto insurance costs in Florida went up from $610.21 to $1036.76 between 1989 and 2010. When compared to states such as California (-0.3%), Hawaii (13.7%) and New Hampshire (15.9%), the rate change in Florida is drastic. In fact, at 2010 levels, Florida is the 5th most expensive state in terms of auto insurance.
As per a November 2013 study by the Consumer Federation of America, one of the main reasons for this rise in auto insurance costs in Florida is the lack of adequate regulation to keep rates low. States such as California have implemented strong regulation which not only enables them to control rate changes but also keep rates lower for the consumer. California has a Prior Approval system in which rates must first be approved by the state before they can be implemented in the marketplace. Florida’s system requires insurers to file rates before they can be implemented but there is no requirement for approval by the state.
One of the key features in California’s pioneering auto insurance regulation is the control over the criteria that determine rates in each case. The regulation in California requires insurers to give more weight to driving record, miles driven and years of driving experience (in that order) over other factors such as traffic density or ZIP code. This ensures that good drivers are able to get lower rates even if they live in, for instance, areas of high traffic density. This has led to overall rate of change of insurance costs in California being the lowest in the country. In fact, people in California paid $745.74 on average on 2010 whereas in 1989 they paid $747.97.
Putting strong regulation in place will bring down auto insurance costs in Florida if the impact of regulation on costs in other states across the country is anything to go by.