Florida Could Repeal “No-Fault” Auto Insurance by 2019

by Martin Arguello

A Florida state legislator proposed repealing the state’s personal injury protection auto insurance, also known as “no-fault” auto insurance, by 2019. State Representative Bill Hager filed the bill as a means to combat fraud in the state’s auto insurance system. State Senator Jeff Brandes filed a nearly identical version of the same bill in the state’s upper house two weeks earlier. If the measures pass both houses, the requirement for drivers to carry personal injury protection auto insurance would expire in less than four years.

Details of “No-Fault” Auto Insurance

Under Florida law, motorists are required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage with their auto insurance policies. The annual average cost of this “no-fault” coverage is about $125. The PIP coverage includes $10,000 in medical benefits for drivers or passengers injured in a crash. The $10,000 in auto insurance benefits covers emergency medical conditions related to an accidents. The coverage also includes up to $2,500 for non-emergency conditions. The law required accident victims to seek treatment with 14 days of an accident to receive their benefits.

Auto Insurance Limits Spark Legal Battles

The original intent of the PIP coverage, according to reports, was to reduce the number of auto-accident-related personal injury lawsuits across the state. The victims would instead use the benefits from the auto insurance to pay their medical bills. However, recent court rulings have called the idea of “no-fault” auto insurance into question. A county judge ruled in 2013 that the law illegally barred accident victims from using PIP benefits to pay for alternative treatments, such as massage and acupuncture. A higher court overturned the judge’s decision, leaving the legal status of these treatments in doubt.

Auto Insurance Repeal Gains Backers

Several prominent politicians have also pointed out the potential for fraud in PIP auto insurance benefits. The restrictions placed on the types of treatments available to accident victims attempted to close avenues for those who sought to defraud the auto insurance system. The proposal in the House and Senate seek to close those avenues by disbanding “no-fault” coverage entirely. A spokesperson for state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater told reporters, “If consumers aren’t going to get the relief the legislation intended, then the time to repeal has arrived.”

What Could Replace PIP Auto Insurance?

The dual proposals would replace the PIP coverage with requirements for bodily injury and property damage auto insurance coverage. The proposals do not address how the changes would impact the potential for more auto insurance lawsuits. They also do not mention how the costs of additional coverage would impact low-income drivers. Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty told the state’s Chamber of Commerce that officials “have done everything to fix PIP you could have possibly have done,” so a repeal would be in order.

Source: Tampa Tribune

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NOTE: This blog post is a news story and is not an endorsement of Arguello Law Firm by any party mentioned herein.

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