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The No Fault Debate in Florida

08/3/2007
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Florida’s “No Fault” insurance statute is nearing expiration. Should it be renewed; should it be allowed to “sunset”; should it be modified? The Florida legislature has an opportunity to not only take the correct action, but an opportunity to improve on the no fault system altogether.

The controversy about eliminating “No Fault” is interesting. In the early ‘’70’s, when NO FAULT started in our state it was controversial. As it gained in popularity nationwide, Florida adopted it along with most states. The result was compulsory PIP (Personal Injury Protection) and compulsory PD (Property Damage liability)

PIP pays medical expenses (lost wages also) and PD pays for damages to motor vehicles. It should come as no surprise the groups that lobbied heavily for the original passage of compulsory PIP and PD? You guessed it. Medical providers lobbied heavily for PIP to get their bills paid. And who lobbied hot and heavy for PD inclusion? You probably guessed correctly again. The banks and finance companies wanted PD included to protect their collateral (motor vehicles). Although driven by there own business interests, the end result was good for the Florida consumer.

But, there was no special interest group throwing money at including compulsory BI (Bodily Injury liability) coverage. Bodily injury coverage pays damages to injured victims in auto crashes. To this day we do not have any compulsory BI liability coverage in Florida, but most states do.

I think it is clear to any thoughtful person that there should be a continuation of compulsory PIP and PD coverage, currently provided for in the No Fault statute. The legislature has an opportunity to also add compulsory bodily injury protection coverage. The required limits should be at least $10,000 per accident and $20,000 per occurrence. PIP should be increased as well. PIP was $10,000 back in 1972 and certainly medical costs charged to injured victims have since skyrocketed.

The Florida legislature can not only do the right thing by renewing the current No Fault structure; they have an opportunity to actually improve the system for both business and victim interests. I encourage them to step up to the plate and do the right thing.

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