Florida is one of the most attractive states for motorcyclists looking for a breathtaking tour. The Sunshine State offers nearly 1,200 miles of exquisite shoreline and a whole lot of magnificent roads between. With 4 out of the 25 most-visited attractions in America and an estimated 60-75 million total visitors a year, it’s a good idea to know a bit about our state before you hit the road to Florida.
Obviously, Florida gets a lot of attention for having some of the best motorcycle festivals in the world, such as Daytona’s Bike Week and Biketoberfest, and Sarasota’s Thunder by the Bay. However, many motorcyclists come just to ride. The trip from the panhandle to Key West is an exhilarating 800-mile trip in itself, the first stretch winding through the long-leaf pine trees, sea oats, hammocks, marshes, and beautiful beaches of South Walton between Pensacola and Panama City, and the final 100 miles spanning the Florida Keys Scenic Highway with nothing but water on either side, save your stops on the islands for fresh seafood and beer.
If you start in the eastern part of the state, hit the 38-mile Scenic Route 13 outside of Jacksonville along the St. Johns River. The A1A from St. Augustine to Ormond Beach also offers great stretches of road along the ocean without condos blocking the view. You may also want to visit Sugarloaf Mountain near Lake Apopka for some tighter corners and hillier terrain. And of course, we’re a bit partial to the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway and a tour of Sarasota’s keys.
Before you start mapping out your trip to see as many of Florida’s 135 great motorcycle roads as you can, be sure that you carry adequate insurance coverage. Florida is one of 12 states with a No-Fault Law, which means that all automobile owners and drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in both personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) to cover bodily harm to yourself and your passengers (PIP) and damages to the other party’s vehicle and other possessions if you caused the crash (PDL). The No-Fault Law does not apply to motorcyclists; however, the Florida Financial Responsibility Law does, which means if you are at fault in an accident, you are legally obligated to pay the cost of the damages. So although you aren’t legally required to have PIP and PDL to operate a motorcycle in the state of Florida, if you are found at fault for an accident, you’re really going to wish that you did.
Another very important form of insurance coverage for motorcyclists in Florida is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Florida ranks among the top five states in the U.S. for uninsured motorists; most recent reports estimate almost 24% of Florida drivers operate without insurance. Of those drivers that are insured, only a small portion of them carry Bodily Injury (BI) liability insurance that would cover anyone they injure in an accident. Motorcycle accidents are serious events, often resulting in injuries more critical than those incurred in crashes involving cars only. Even if you carry your own PIP insurance, trust us — the $10,000 minimum will not go very far in the aftermath of a motorcycle accident. Should an uninsured, negligent driver injure you, without UM coverage you’ll make the unfortunate discovery that there is no resource to pay for medical costs and other recoverable damages.
Also, although Florida does allow motorcycle riders to ride legally without a helmet, you must be at least 21 years old and carry a medical insurance policy that covers a minimum of $10,000 in benefits for injuries resulting in a crash. Finally, while it does feel good to get the wind in your hair, a helmet does a lot to cut down on the fatigue of long trips; that way, you’ll get the most out of our beautiful state. Enjoy the trip!