Until recently, Florida has had a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance system, also known as “no-fault insurance.” The intention of PIP was to provide injured drivers immediate medical coverage instead of establishing fault through the court system.
The primary goals of PIP were to reduce delays in payment for injured drivers and limit the weight on the court system. In Florida, PIP coverage was required to be purchased by all vehicle owners registered in the state. The coverage made individuals responsible for their own injuries suffered due to an accident, regardless of fault.
Senate Bill 54
The passage of Senate Bill 54 repeals the state’s no-fault PIP system and instead requires bodily injury coverage starting at $25,000 for all Florida drivers. Although earlier versions of the bill required insurers to offer medical payments coverage (MedPay) in the amount of $5,000 or $10,000, the passed version makes the offering optional and includes an optional $5,000 MedPay death benefit.
The bill will also entirely overhaul the framework under which motor vehicle claims are handled and address third-party bad-faith failures to settle actions against insurance carriers.
Bill sponsor Danny Burgess contends that a study from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulations (OIR) demonstrated how rates would be reduced if PIP was repealed in Florida. He stated that the provisions addressing bad faith will also help stop fraud that has been all too common with PIP and therefore lead to even further rate reductions.
Opposition to Bill 54
Senator Jeff Brandes, one of three senators who opposed the bill, said that studies regarding how exactly the bill would lower rates have been insufficient. Specifically, Brandes stated that “Florida already has some of the highest rates in the country, and unfortunately if you are just struggling to make it… [and] buying just PIP today, rates will go up 40%.”
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), an insurance trade group, also opposed the bill, stating it may increase the state’s current 20% uninsured rate. The APCIA further noted that its analysis shows the bill could increase the cost of the average auto insurance policy by as much as 23% and that drivers who carry the lowest levels of coverage could see increases as high as $805 per year. The APCIA said more than 28,000 letters were sent to lawmakers opposing the bill and is encouraging the governor to veto the legislation.
Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney for More Information
A Florida car accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you understand these groundbreaking changes to Florida insurance law and can analyze your claim, inform you of your options, and help you with any insurance or legal claims you may have. We have over 40 years of legal experience helping people recover the compensation to which they’re entitled. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. Contact us today.