What a repeal of no-fault insurance could mean for Florida drivers
Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system could soon come to an end after over four decades of existence. Proposed legislation has been filed in the House and Senate to eliminate the state requirement for all motorists to purchase at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP).
PIP insurance was initially designed to provide individuals injured in car accidents basic medical coverage, regardless of who is to blame for the accident. But Florida motorists pay some of the country’s highest insurance premiums for these otherwise low amounts of coverage. Currently, Florida is one of just 12 that retain a no-fault system.
Proponents of this new bill say the no-fault insurance system has failed to achieve its goals, such as lowering consumer rates or reducing the number of car accident lawsuits. Reforms implemented in 2012 to lessen fraud have not yielded the savings that were expected. In fact, PIP rates have risen more than 25 percent since 2015, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The increases could be due to more miles driven, more distracted driving and rising medical costs.
If Florida’s no-fault law is repealed, one possibility would be replacing it with mandatory bodily injury liability insurance. Most of the 38 states without no-fault coverage require bodily injury liability coverage instead. In my experience as a personal injury lawyer, one of the most gut-wrenching discussions I have with clients and their families is to explain to them that, while they may have $10,000 in medical bills, sometimes the driver who hit them who we believe is at fault has no bodily-injury coverage, which limits avenues to seek relief to help with medical bills, pain, suffering, etc.
Many Florida drivers already have bodily-injury coverage in their existing policy but seemingly more drivers do not. A Personal Insurance Federation of Florida spokesman warned the no-fault law’s repeal could lead to increased premiums for all motorists depending on the mandatory premiums for bodily injury insurance.
The proposed legislation will pass through the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee for review. The committee’s chairwoman wants to consider other ways in which to lower consumer rates instead of abolishing the no-fault system.