Ultimate Car Insurance Guide
Known as both the Lightning and Cigar Capital of the World, one of the less favorable things Tampa is famous for is its excessively expensive car insurance rates.
The high density of traffic, frequent claims, and fraudulent activities all contribute to the ever-rising premiums in the city.
Though the rates are steep citywide, studies prove that costs vary greatly among Tampa insurance providers.
Shopping around and doing your research will help you find the best car insurance discounts along with other opportunities to lower these necessary – but annoying – costs.
As a consumer, you also want to know what your rights are if you are ever involved in a car accident. You have found the Car Insurance Ultimate Guide to make sure you have the right coverage you and your family need to protect yourself.
We are not saying you should go with the cheapest quote you can find.
Buying car insurance prudently requires effort – you need to understand the factors that are determining your rates so you know where to make improvements.
And even more importantly, you need to ensure you have adequate coverage to protect you, your loved ones, and your investments in the life-changing event of a car crash.
Take this inspirational advice from a trusted local insurance agent, Ed Burke, who has over 17 years of experience selling auto insurance:
“What most consumers fail to recognize is that should, God forbid, they cause an accident where they hurt someone, their insurance coverage is the only thing standing between the person they've hurt and their assets. It’s a first line of defense or a shield, and that shield needs to be big enough to protect what they've worked so hard to gain. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you have adequate coverage that lines up with the assets you have to protect. Unfortunately most of the people I come in contact with have no idea what their company would pay out on their behalf should something happen. This is a huge problem.”
If you feel overwhelmed and lost when it comes to car insurance, you’re right where you need to be.
This is the perfect read to make you an educated buyer.
This Tampa car insurance guide will give you the facts you need to help you choose both your company and the right coverage for you.
First, let’s start with the car insurance you are required to buy in Tampa.
Minimum Coverage Requirement in Tampa, Florida
Driving without car insurance is illegal in Tampa.
Here are the minimum coverage amounts that are mandated by Florida state law:
What does property damage liability mean?
If you cause a traffic accident in Florida, you’re responsible to pay the expenses to fix resulting damages to other peoples’ property.
That’s where Property Damage Liability (PDL) comes into play.
In Tampa, you’re required to buy property damage liability coverage with a minimum limit of $10,000, but currently there’s no mandate requiring you to buy bodily injury liability insurance, which would cover medical expenses for injuries.
What about my injuries in an accident?
Personal Injury Protection, also known as PIP, covers the injuries sustained by anyone on your policy who is involved in an accident regardless of who was at fault.
Because Florida is a no-fault state, you are required to buy PIP coverage with a minimum of $10,000 in coverage.
You must be wondering what exactly is a no-fault state?
No-fault systems aim to reduce the time and money required to determine fault and fill claims for other peoples’ medical expenses.
When a no-fault law is in place, your insurance carrier covers your injury expenses whether you were at fault or not.
Is the minimum enough in Tampa?
While the minimum coverage listed above is enough to legally drive in Tampa, it is strongly recommended that you increase your insurance coverage.
Expenses from severe accidents can easily exceed policy limits and leave you bankrupt.
Comprehensive and collision insurance are two of the most common and helpful lines of coverage that you should seriously consider adding to your policy.
These are both so important, that if you are financing or leasing your car, your lender will likely require these additional lines of coverage.
What this coverage does for you:
- Comprehensive: will replace or repair your vehicle if it is stolen or damaged by vandalism, fire, wind, hitting an animal, and many other unwanted, unexpected occurrences that happen every day.
- Collision: will replace or repair your vehicle when it is damaged as a result of crashing into another vehicle or object such as fence, light post or tree while you are driving.
Since Tampa is prone to flooding, fallen trees, and even hail caused by tropical storms, thunderstorms, and hurricanes, you should definitely consider comprehensive coverage if you live or work in Tampa.
For a quick education on the different types of coverage available to you, watch this 2-minute video:
Cost of Car Insurance in Tampa, Florida
While researching car insurance costs in your area, you’ll likely stumble onto some average rates.
Is that the cost you should expect to pay?
Don’t base your monthly budget off of an average, because there are many factors that greatly increase and decrease car insurance rates such as: age, gender, occupation, car make and model, annual mileage, credit score, coverage level, and more.
Also an average rate you find online could be outdated.
Make sure you do your own research and get some quotes to compare that are based on your background and personal information.
Keep scrolling to see actual dollar amount rate spikes and drops caused by a few simple profile changes.
Car Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in Tampa
At different age brackets, motorists are charged different insurance rates mainly due to the fact that as you get older and more experienced, your driving improves.
Young drivers in Tampa are charged substantially higher premiums than motorists over the age of 30.
Most insurance carriers also factor in the gender of motorists when determining premiums.
Young male drivers are usually required to pay much more than their female counterparts.
In Tampa, male drivers under 20 pay almost $3,000 more a year for their car insurance than female drivers.
As your age increases, the difference in rates between men and women begins to level off.
Are you curious how Tampa’s car insurance rates compare to other major Florida cities?
So were we.
The graph below shows the average annual premiums by age in the five most populated cities in Florida:
Tampa’s car insurance rates are certainly up there, but on the bright side, at least they are cheaper than Miami’s.
Tampa Car Insurance Premiums by Zip Code
Car insurance rates vary greatly across the city, take a look:
The average annual premium in Tampa is $4,864.
Residents in the cheapest neighborhoods in this city pay around $4,291 a year – that’s a difference of almost $600.
Premium rates can vary drastically by zip code due to an area’s history and associated risk.
Insurance providers charge more when a location has a higher rate of theft, vandalism, and/or traffic accidents.
These events cost providers, so they accommodate by starting off with higher premiums.
If you are planning to move to the Tampa area, you can reduce your premiums by choosing a neighborhood where rates are lower.
Best Car Insurance Companies in Tampa, Florida
The definition of “best” is subjective. What is best for you might not be the best option for your neighbors.
Your personal factors such as driving record, credit history, daily mileage, and coverage level all come together to determine the rates that you are charged.
For example, if you have a high credit score, you will likely be charged much less than someone with poor credit.
That’s why it’s important to shop around for your car insurance.
It is essential that you find an insurance carrier who is the best match for you and your individual needs.
Let’s look at the rates by different insurers when these factors are taken into account.
Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Provider in Tampa
USAA offers the cheapest rates across all age groups in Tampa while Allstate is the most expensive insurance provider.
As you will see as you peruse the rates below, USAA has the lowest prices in every category we cover.
This insurance provider only offers insurance for military members and their families.
Best Car Insurance Rates by Mileage in Tampa
A short commute to work and not racking up miles all year can also help lower your rates.
Typically a motorist with just a 10 mile daily commute would have slightly lower premiums than someone driving 25 miles to and from work.
If you work from home or don’t drive much in general, be sure to look into the usage-based insurance programs that are available in your area.
With usage-based or pay-as-you-go programs, a telematics device is installed in your car that keeps track of your driving behavior.
Some examples are Progressive’s Snapshot and Allstate’s Drivewise.
What components are recorded by this device?
Each state is different, but in Florida insurance providers are allowed to track your annual mileage, traveling speeds, and braking habits.
Some companies promise to never increase your rates based on the results, while others will bump your rates for unsafe driving.
The goal is to have your safe driving and low mileage rewarded with lower rates.
Best Car Insurance Rates by Coverage Level in Tampa
Again, you need to choose the coverage level that’s appropriate for you.
For instance, if you have a luxury or classic car, you should get a high level of coverage since damages from an accident are more expensive to repair.
We know they are tempting, but don’t just settle on the lowest rates. Remember a few dollars of savings a month could result in falling thousands of dollars short on medical payments after an accident.
On that note, you should also consider investing in uninsured/underinsured coverage if you live or even just drive in Tampa.
Because Florida is home to the MOST uninsured drivers in the country.
That’s right, 27 percent of Florida residents are driving illegally with absolutely no car insurance coverage.
If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, this coverage will pay your medical bills, repairs to damaged property, and it will even cover your lost wages.
Since the state minimum limit for property damage liability in Florida is only $10,000, even if the other driver has insurance, the probability of that coverage running short is far too high to risk it.
Best Car Insurance Rates by Credit History in Tampa
For Florida residents, having a poor credit score will definitely impact your premiums negatively.
“It is certainly controversial, but almost every insurance company in the U.S. factors an individual’s credit score into the rate they will pay for auto insurance. Technically, the insurance company may not necessarily pull a credit score or credit report, but they will use some type of insurance score that is based on one’s credit score. Generally speaking, the better your credit score, the better your car insurance rate.” – Joel Ohman, Certified Financial Planner and founder of CarInsuranceComparison.com
As evident in the table above, rates are significantly higher for motorists with poor credit scores.
Best Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record in Tampa
Speeding, causing an accident, and driving drunk will all impact not only your driving record, but also your insurance rates.
Take a look at the chart below to see just how much these violations affect the price you pay for your car insurance.
The rate increase will match the offense, and the more you get, the more you pay.
Also the type of violations makes a big difference.
A DUI is going to raise your premiums more than a speeding violation or accident, and some providers don’t even increase your rates after one moving violation or small claim.
“I moved to Tampa from Boston 15 years ago…the huge cockroaches and ‘wicked’ expensive insurance rates were hard to get used to. But with some effort, my husband and I have been able to keep our annual premiums under $3,000 a year – for FULL coverage on two cars – even with a speeding ticket (he’s learned from his mistakes) and even after a teen driver slammed into our SUV. I suggest you get 2-3 quotes, then have the agents compete for your business. You should be able to beat the average Tampa rates—they sure aren’t cheap!” – Sara Routhier, Research Editor for AutoInsuranceEZ.com
Tampa is one of the ten worst cities in Florida for deadly DUIs with 3.77 drunk driving deaths for every 100,000 residents.
Accumulating multiple violations on your driving record will label you as a high-risk driver and can even cause insurance companies to deny you coverage.
If that happens, the Florida Automobile Joint Underwriting Association (FAJUA) will cover you.
But do realize this is no easy fix, these high-risk rates will cost you up to 200 percent more.
Driving in Tampa, Florida
Tampa’s annual average temperature of 74 degrees, nearby award-winning beaches, and its low cost of living are all a huge lure.
In addition to those charms, Tampa’s transportation costs are also quite reasonable.
The city offers free rides on the historic street cars, and thanks to its accommodating climate, you can usually walk or bike everywhere you need to go.
That’s not all!
In 2018 Tampa was voted a top ten best city to drive in America.
But really, with all those spring breakers and snow birds escaping the snow and cold weather, how is driving in Tampa?
Let’s look at some stats.
Car Ownership in Tampa
The largest group of Tampa households (43 percent) own two cars. Check out the percentages below for the number of cars per family and how that compares to the national average for each category, shown in grey.
It seems that in Tampa less is more—when it comes to cars anyway.
Over 30 percent of Tampa families only own one car, which is more than the U.S. average and less Tampa driveways have three than you’ll find in the rest of the country.
Commute Time in Tampa
The average commute time for Tampa employees is 22.8 minutes, which is shorter than the national average: 25.5 minutes.
Even though Tampa’s average commute is nearly 23 minutes long, the largest percentage of Tampa commuters have a 30-34 minute commute to and from work every day.
The Good News:
The easy 15-24 minute commutes are more common and the dreaded 40-90 minute plus super commutes are less common in Tampa than in the rest of the country.
Commuter Transportation in Tampa
Most Tampa residents are driving alone to work—a whopping 77 percent in fact.
Only two percent of Tampa commuters are using public transportation.
That’s probably because the federal government ranked Tampa’s transit system the worst in the nation in more than one category.
A Tampa Bay Times publication shares stories of commuters wasting much of their day away on the city’s seriously insufficient public transit.
Here’s one of them:
“Auto mechanic Charles Capdevielle, 56, spends three hours every day on the bus, traveling between his home in downtown St. Petersburg to his work in Largo. In a car, it would be a 20-minute trip door-to-door.”
Fortunately, more Tampa residents work from home than the national average.
Vehicle Theft in Tampa
According to FBI reports, there were 628 vehicles stolen in Tampa in 2016.
Here’s a vehicle theft comparison for the five largest cities in Florida:
628 stolen cars is certainly nothing to celebrate, but clearly it could have been much worse.
Despite St. Pete having 116,394 less residents this Florida city still managed to have 467 more stolen vehicles than Tampa.
Traffic Congestion in Tampa
Traffic experts at INRIX, perform a massive annual study that involves 38 countries around the world.
In 2018, Tampa was found to be the 17th most congested city in the United States and the 107th in the world.
This traffic congestion is costing Florida residents both time and money.
People who live, work, and drive in Tampa are losing an average of 87 hours a year stuck in traffic.
And this congestion costs the city a shocking $1,216 per driver.
What IS in Your Control?
While there’s not much you can do about traffic in Tampa (especially during spring break and rush hour), comparing top providers, rates in your area, factors that affect those rates, and the lines of coverage available will all help you make the best choice for your provider and policy.
If you learned anything from this article, then you’re off to a great start.
Be an informed consumer who gets the most out of the hard-earned money you’re investing in insurance.
Tampa Car Insurance FAQ's
1. Is there a penalty for driving without car insurance in Tampa?
Getting caught driving uninsured will cost you your license.
Your driving privileges will be revoked for up to three years.
Here are the fees you will have to pay to get your license reinstated after the suspension is lifted:
- 1st Offense: $150
- 2nd Offense: $250
- 3rd Offense: $500
It is considered a subsequent offense if it happens within three years from the prior offense.
Please realize, those fees are nothing compared to what it will cost you if you get in an accident without insurance.
2. What Tampa company offers the cheapest car insurance?
USAA has the cheapest rates in the Tampa area.
But as we discussed earlier, this insurance company only provides coverage for military members and their families.
According to the average rates, the cheapest provider for non-military customers in Tampa would be State Farm.
3. What’s the legal BAC limit while driving in Tampa?
In Tampa here’s the amount of alcohol that will get you a DUI:
- Under 21: 0.02% is all it takes!
- Over 21: 0.08%
- Commercial drivers: 0.04%
The penalties you face after “just one” DUI include: losing your license and car, paying $1,000 in fines, and spending six months in jail.
If you’re caught driving with a minor in the car or a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, the penalties increase to $2,000 in fines and up to nine months of jail time.
4. Am I allowed to talk on the phone or text while driving in Tampa?
Starting July 1st 2019, Florida finally joined Washington D.C. and 24 states in banning hand-held cell phone use while driving.
This new texting while driving law is a primary traffic offense that will be enforced by fines.
Subsequent offenses for phone use while driving will assign points to the driver’s record.
Some hand-held use while driving in Tampa is allowed though. Drivers can hold their phones to talk, they can touch and look at their phones when using them for navigation, and they can text while stopped at traffic lights.
Please Note: The laws are more strict in school zones and active work zones with workers present.
Beginning October 1st 2019 in Florida, only completely hands-free phone use is allowed when driving in these areas.
As these new distracted driving laws are being implemented, Florida drivers will receive warnings only until January 1, 2020.
Do I need to buy car insurance in Tampa even if my car is not being used for parts of the year?
If you have a vehicle in Florida for more than 90 days a year (those days don’t need to be consecutive), you must purchase at least the minimum car insurance required by Florida law, which is at least $10k in PIP and PDI as explained above.
Even if your vehicle isn’t being driven, if it has a valid Florida license plate and registration, you must maintain continuous car insurance coverage through the registration period.
However, if you don’t need to use a vehicle in Florida for more than 90 days, you can turn in your Florida license plate and registration to a local DMV, and at that time it is perfectly fine for you terminate your auto insurance policy.