Florida PIP Insurance: Will the Legislature Finally Act?

Florida’s 2019 legislative session officially starts on March 3rd, and legislative committees are already meeting to discuss what the 2019 Legislature’s priorities will be. One of the items expected to be high on the agenda, for the third year in a row, is automobile liability insurance reform. According to a report from the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Florida drivers face the third highest auto insurance rates in the country. The state moved up two places from its fifth place ranking in 2018, according to a survey by consumer insurance website insure.com.

Florida’s Current No-Fault Insurance System

In Florida, motorists are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, a limited form of no-fault insurance which kicks in to cover the first $10,000 of a motorist’s damages in a motor vehicle accident in the Sunshine State, regardless of whether the motorist was at fault or not in an accident in which he or she was injured. PIP covers, among other things, medical expenses for injuries suffered in an accident (as well as any loss of income the person may suffer as a result of the accident.) However, this amount is subject to a deductible that the motorist must pay before the PIP insurance kicks in. Under Florida law, it also only covers 80% of your medical bills up to the $10,000 coverage amount. Therefore, if the motorist has suffered $9,800 in medical expenses, then his or her PIP coverage would not cover that entire amount of medical expenses subject to (1) the person’s PIP deductible and (2) the 20% of the person’s medical bills that PIP is not required to cover under Florida law.

Why the Present System is Unfair to Florida Drivers

Where this current arrangement has shortchanged Florida drivers is that it makes them responsible for paying a certain amount of their own injuries and damages regardless of their fault in causing motor vehicle accidents in which they are injured and regardless of what other insurance coverage they may have. Therefore, given the fact that Florida is one of the most accident-prone states in the country, according to just about any survey that looks at the issue, the problem is unlikely to change without some sort of legislative fix. To make matters worse, Florida often comes in first in the country in the number of uninsured drivers on its roads.

Insurance rates for PIP coverage in Florida have jumped by 25% since 2015 alone, which is higher than the rates for automobile liability insurance premiums generally have risen in the state. This is largely a result of the state’s current legally mandated insurance scheme, which is estimated to cost each Florida driver an average of $81 per year more than they would pay if the state did not require PIP coverage, according to a survey commissioned by the State of Florida. This totals more than $1 billion across the Sunshine State on an annual basis that Florida drivers are unnecessarily paying so that drivers who are causing accidents can pay less for their insurance coverage, if they even carry any coverage. These subsidies of unsafe and/or negligent drivers by motorists who are doing the right thing needs to stop. Indeed, when Colorado dropped a similar PIP system, its drivers saved 35 percent on average on their car insurance premiums the next year.

Potential Solutions to the Automobile Insurance Crisis

Among the items the Florida Legislature is expected to tackle again this term is PIP reform. The efforts to repeal the state’s current broken system and replace it with one that does not make accident victims bear the cost of their own injuries caused by someone else’s negligence have not succeeded. A measure addressing the PIP issue failed in the State Senate during the past two terms, not for lack of trying. Key legislative leaders have indicated they will again attempt to tackle the issue this term. After passing the House in the 2018 legislative session, the reform bill unexpectedly failed in a Senate committee. In 2017, a similar result occurred, leaving Florida drivers with a system that is desperately in need of reform.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A.

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of motor vehicle accidents in Florida. We have seen first hand how the current automobile liability insurance system in Florida penalizes accident victims who are injured by someone else’s negligence through no fault of their own.  That is why we fight so hard for our clients to recover every penny they are entitled to under Florida law, because the current system is unfair to accident victims. Therefore, if you, a family member, or a loved one have been injured or killed by a motor vehicle on a Florida road through no fault of your own, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.