It’s no secret that there has been a push to eliminate the “no-fault” system for auto insurance in Florida. This system was originally put in place in 1979 and requires Florida drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This gives drivers the ability to turn to their own auto insurance to make a claim if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
So, why does the Florida Senate want to remove the no-fault system? And most importantly, what kind of PIP Florida law changes will take place if the bill is passed?
Keep reading to get all of the facts on the PIP reform law in Florida and what it might mean for you.
What Does No-Fault System Mean?
Florida is one of only two states that requires its drivers to hold fast to the no-fault auto insurance system.
To clarify, no-fault does not actually mean that no one is at fault for the accident. It simply means that, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, a driver can turn to their own car insurance for compensation for their injuries.
Benefits of PIP Law in Florida
The current PIP law will pay for:
- 80% of medical bills
- Up to $2,500 for non-emergency treatment
- Up to $10,000 for treatment of an emergency medical condition
Furthermore, this system often provides much quicker compensation for treatment, as it does not require fault to be determined in the accident to recover these benefits. It also incentivizes drivers to seek treatment for their injuries as soon as possible, as drivers must get treatment within fourteen days of their injury to claim this benefit.
Recent Attempts to Change the Legislation
In recent years, Florida lawmakers have been aggressively trying to eliminate the system and reform it with new changes to PIP law.
In 2021, the Florida Senate introduced SB 54, which would eliminate the mandatory PIP requirement for auto insurance. In its place, the new PIP reform law would require vehicle owners to carry:
- A minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury coverage
- A minimum of $50,000 for two or more people in any one accident
- Medpay with limits of $5,000 to compensate emergency service providers or hospitals for treatment of accident victims with no deductible to the insured
The bill also created a new framework that governed bad faith failure to settle actions. This would impose standards based on good faith duties toward the insured during the claims process and settlement negotiations.
Governor DeSantis Vetoes SB 54
The theory behind the new bill was to decrease the costs of insurance since there would be an increase in liability coverage on Florida’s roads. Former Senate President Wilton Simpson said of the bill, “for everyone’s protection, drivers must be insured at sufficient levels. PIP levels are clearly insufficient. It’s the right time for Florida to move to mandatory coverage for bodily injury liability.”
However, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the bill when it was proposed, alleging that it may drive insurance costs up for Florida residents. He claimed that this could result in a higher number of uninsured drivers on the road. He also feared that the change would expose insurance companies to more “bad-faith” litigation in the future.
Repeal bills were filled in 2022 but did not make it through the House and Senate committees after the veto of SB 54.
What is Coming Down the Pipeline Now?
In March 2023, a new PIP bill was introduced in the Florida Senate (SB 586) and the House (H 429). This time, it proposed major changes to the Florida motor vehicle insurance landscape.
First and foremost on the agenda: remove the “no-fault” system from Florida’s required auto insurance coverage.
New Requirements for Florida Drivers
If passed, the new PIP law Florida changes will require drivers to show proof of mandatory bodily injury coverage before they may register a motor vehicle with the State. Drivers will also still be required to present proof of financial responsibility for any damages arising out of their operation of a motor vehicle in the amount of $10,000, although the requirements for self-insurance have increased substantially in the proposed legislation.
The bill will take effect in July 2024 if it is approved.
What Does this Mean for the Future?
The no-fault system has been under attack for some time in Florida. It has remained a constant issue in the state legislature over the past ten years. So, what happens if the changes in PIP law take place?
First, the elimination of PIP coverage will return Florida to a system of accountability. This means that the at-fault driver is responsible for all of the medical bills accrued by the victim as a result of the accident. On the bright side, if SB 586 is passed, this will streamline the process of recovery for medical bills after an accident, providing a single source of repayment that is not fragmented by percentages.
New PIP Law Could Streamline Insurance Processes
Next, the addition of medical payment insurance to your policy will streamline the process even further. Drivers who add this to their policy will be covered up to a specified amount for:
- Medical bills
- Hospital stays
- Any other treatments that are required as a result of an accident
Furthermore, medical payments coverage will also pay for health insurance deductibles, so it can minimize your out-of-pocket expenses. If you have a passenger in your vehicle, it can cover any expenses accrued for injuries resulting from the accident.
Will the 2023 PIP Florida Law Changes Actually Cut Costs?
Reports have not yet been released on the potential impacts on the price of insurance of SB 586/HB 429. However, it is estimated to reduce the cost of insurance for the average driver.
Another positive change that may come if this legislature is passed is that it could protect you from uninsured motorists. In order to obtain uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage (UM), you are required to have bodily injury coverage.
Many more drivers will have the option to protect themselves in the event they are hit by an uninsured driver by opting into UM coverage. In the event you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your UM coverage will allow you to make a claim against your own policy for any damages you sustain.
How Carey Leisure & Neal Can Help
We understand that change can be daunting. But regardless of what the future brings for the Florida no-fault system and personal injury protection coverage, you can trust Carey Leisure & Neal to always act in your best interests.
Our team will remain up-to-date on what is happening in the Florida legislature, and make sure you are aware of how potential changes in PIP law may affect your interests. You deserve clear and honest communication, and our team at Carey Leisure & Neal has been offering that to our clients for over forty years.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and are looking for representation for your injuries, call the Law Offices of Carey Leisure & Neal today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the impending legislation and would be honored to represent you in pursuit of your claim.