Florida legislatures have revived a bill, SB 150, that could potentially terminate the requirement that Florida drivers must obtain $10,000 mandatory personal injury protection coverage.
For nearly half a century, the no-fault state has required motorists to buy the $10,000 of personal injury coverage under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system in order to cover a driver’s or passenger’s own injuries, regardless of who is at fault.
Efforts have increased in Tallahassee to replace the no-fault system with a tort-based system. The bill is sponsored by Senator Tom Lee.
“I’m trying to make sure we don’t raise premiums on Floridians, but at the same token that we protect as many options for consumers to get medical care in the event of an accident,” Lee said. “It’s a balancing act.”
The 2012 law required those involved in car accidents to seek treatment within 14 days after the crash, put a $2,500 cap on coverage for non-emergency injuries, eliminated acupuncturists and massage therapists from getting paid for medical coverage, and set additional requirements for those who visited a chiropractor. With three million people getting injured in car accidents in the U.S. every year, these requirements lead to a quick increase in expenses for those involved in accidents.
State Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, and an orthopedic surgeon, explained that the House plan fails to ensure medical providers are compensated for treating injuries that occur from accidents. He wants to see reliability in reimbursement.
According to a 2016 actuarial study commissioned by the state, under the House bill, HB 19, drivers could save up to $1 billion collectively. These savings would be a net saving after expected premium increases for bodily-injury liability coverage. The House plan would require $25,000 a person and $50,000 an accident.
Of the 218 million people in the U.S. who had driver’s licenses in 2015, about 90% of Florida drivers already carry some level of BI coverage. The savings would come because they would no longer have to pay for PIP, whose premiums have increased by double digits in recent years.
According to a Senate staff analysis, drivers’ savings would dry up and overall premiums are expected to rise after SB 150 is implemented.
The Senate bill repeals PIP and requires bodily-injury liability coverage in amounts that are implemented gradually over several years. However, it also requires drivers to buy $5,000 of “medical payments” coverage regardless of how much health insurance drivers already have.
Mark Delegal, a lobbyist representing State Farm, claims this bill amounts to “PIP version 2.0” and is inefficient and costly.
Both the House bill and the Senate bill would end the lack of requirement of bodily-injury liability insurance, which covers injuries to others.
Florida drivers pay more than $1,200 in yearly car insurance premiums. Repeal supports have called PIP “a failed social experiment” and has caused drivers who already pay for health insurance to have to pay unnecessary expenses.
The proposal to repeal the no-fault law must still go before two more committees before reaching the Senate floor.