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Should I keep my higher liability limits?


A

Question: I no longer need to carry my FR-44, but I’m thinking about keeping the higher liability limits.  Is that a good idea?  Should I be able to get lower rates now?

Answer:  Yes, if you can afford it, we firmly believe in keeping higher liability limits on your auto insurance policy. State minimum liability limits are just that -- just enough to cover you to be legally insured.  Bare minimum limits aren’t high enough to protect you if you cause a severe or multi-car accident.  And when the FR-44 requirement ends after three years, you should be able to obtain cheaper rates with some insurers.

The FR-44 is used only in Florida and Virginia currently, typically for someone who has a DUI on his record. In Florida, you’re required to carry liability limits of 100/300/50 with an FR-44.  This stands for bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 maximum per accident and $50,000 of property damage.   In Virginia, the limits are 50/100/40 for the same types of liability coverages.

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If you live in Florida, the 100/300/50 limits match what the insurance industry recommends for motorists.  Virginia’s FR-44 limits are double the state minimum, but we’d still recommend going up to 100/300/50, or more if you can afford it.

The more coverage you have, the less likely it will be that your limits will be exceeded and that you’ll have your assets put at risk since you have to pay out-of-pocket for what your auto insurance policy doesn’t cover. 

Having higher liability insurance limits will cost more than the state minimum coverages; however, if the offense that required you to obtain the FR-44 is no longer looked at by car insurance companies, then your rates should come down from what you are currently paying.

Keep in mind, it isn’t the FR-44 (or the similar SR-22) that made your insurance rates high, but the offense that required you to carry this certificate of responsibility with the state.  A DUI is kept on your driving record 11 years in Virginia and for 75 years in Florida.  Car insurance companies, however, typically only rate on this risky offense for three, five or seven years (based upon their own rating system).  

Without the need to find an auto insurance company to file the FR-44 for you, you should have a wider variety of car insurance providers to choose from when shopping for your next policy.  Being able to comparison shop in this manner, should mean that you can obtain cheaper car insurance rates while carrying your higher liability limits.

You can also look around for other ways to save.  With the DUI and FR-44 behind you, you may be eligible for more discounts.

And if rates are not as low as you want, see about changing other coverages.  You might want to raise your deductibles, or if your vehicle is older, drop comprehensive and collision altogether. 

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