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Could Florida’s Personal Injury Protection Mandate Soon Be Over?

Over the past few years, there has been significant controversy and discussion surrounding Florida’s personal injury protection mandate, otherwise known as the no-fault auto insurance system. The discussion is again being taken to the state Legislature and will be heard during the 2018 session.

Why Repeal No-Fault Auto Insurance?

Florida has seen a rise in fraudulent activity that takes advantage of no-fault auto insurance policies. In 2012, the Legislature passed measures in an effort to curb fraud, but it has not been successful. This is the primary reason state Senator Tom Lee of Thonotosassa filed a bill that would repeal the mandate completely.

Lee said, “While well-intentioned anecdotally, Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law has resulted in widespread fraud, abuse, and a complex litigation process. Since its enactment (in the) ‘70s, the value of the PIP benefit has eroded, while Florida’s auto insurance premiums continue to rise.”

There seems to be a growing push to repeal the measure; or, at the very least, an acceptance of the fact that the mandate’s time is coming to a close. Jeff Atwater, former Florida Senate president, recently said, “I do believe the sunset of PIP will come at some point in the future. I think we tried every possible way to reform it, and I just don’t think we can keep the costs down for the level of the value that it’s providing consumers. I think it’s getting way too expensive for the value to the consumer.

If the policy were to be repealed, it’s been predicted that motorists will save about $80 a year

How Realistic Is Repeal?

If repeal were to occur, it wouldn't be without a fight. Insurers, medical providers, and business groups all oppose a repeal. Currently, there are two different versions of the bill – one in the House, and one in the Senate. The bills differ in the proposed levels of bodily-injury coverage that would be required. The first step toward repeal was taken a couple weeks ago when the proposed House bill passed the Commerce Committee.

Representative Erin Grall of Vero Beach proposed the House version of the repeal bill. She said, “I understand that it’s going to be difficult and that change is hard” but “we will have more adequate levels of coverage for the severity of accidents on our road.” Grall also added that outside interests are making the proposal “more complicated than it needs to be.” Because the bill passed committee, it will head to the House floor at the beginning of the legislative session in January 2018.

Grall’s proposed bill would eliminate limits on lawsuits, and make drivers responsible and liable for all damages. The minimum bodily-injury coverage for damages would be $25,000 if injury or death were to occur for a single person or $50,000 for two or more people. If the policy were to pass both the House and the Senate, there would need to compromises made to merge the bills together. Grall hopes to talk with Lee to reach a common ground about their conflicting bill proposals.