Vehicle Insurance and Licensing

Fall 2003 CSANews Issue 48  |  Posted date : Apr 25, 2007.Back to list

Dear Bird Talk,

I spend four winter months in Florida and am getting tired of the return drive. I'd like to fly and buy a car in Florida to keep there.

What rules about owning and insuring a vehicle do I need to consider in making my decision? How about my Canadian driver's licence, is that OK?

Thanks
Dora Nicinski

Response:
The drive does seem to be getting longer every year.

The first thing to do is to get a Florida driver's licence. This is very simple, as you can go to one of the licence offices in Florida and get one fairly quickly. They will need your Canadian driver's licence, your passport and a Florida address to register your licence and your future vehicle.

Buying the car is now just a matter of paying for it (and the Florida tax) and there are some excellent used-vehicle values in Florida. You must also insure the vehicle in Florida, and referrals for insurance companies can come from U.S. friends or the people from whom you purchase the car. As the liability limits required by Florida law are very low, you should request limits of at least $2 million dollars on your insurance protection. We would also recommend that you have an umbrella liability policy in Canada that provides additional liability coverage on all of your insurance policies.

Leaving your car in Florida tends to drain the battery over a period of time and we have found that disconnecting the battery cables helps. You can get cables that snap off very easily, from a Pep Boys or similar automobile shop. An even-better solution is to have a "trickle" charger attached to the battery while you are away.

The only future problem you may have is if you wish to bring the vehicle back to Canada, and this can become quite complicated. We recommend that you simply sell the car in Florida and buy a replacement one in Canada.