Last legislative session, the Florida legislature failed to pass a bill that would have required mandatory bodily injury insurance for drivers in Florida. The bill would have replaced laws enacted in 1971 as part of a no fault automobile insurance plan. This change in law aims to replace the current no fault system under which Florida drivers are forced to purchase only Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is costly, and requires Floridians to purchase additional health insurance that is only in place when they are in a vehicle. According to a State-commissioned actuarial study, the proposed reforms would have saved drivers an average of $81 per car. Thankfully, last week a second and similar bill cleared it’s only committee in the Florida House and is heading to the floor for a vote. As always, we continue to recommend that Florida drivers purchase Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage as there is currently no requirement that Florida drivers purchase bodily injury insurance to cover the damage they cause unfortunate event of an automobile accident.
Florida’s Current No Fault Automobile Insurance Laws
In 1971, Florida adopted a no fault automobile insurance plan. “No fault” and “PIP coverage” are used interchangeably to describe an automobile insurance plan that allows policyholders to recover money for certain financial losses from their own insurers. The system was designed to provide injured drivers with up to $10,000 to cover medical bills and certain other costs, regardless of who was at fault for the accident that resulted in their injuries. Currently, owners of automobiles in Florida are required to purchase only $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PD coverage).
This current system is not working out very well. PIP coverage with a $10,000 limit does not cover much, insofar as it covers only 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost income, leaving claimants responsible for 20% of medical expenses and 40% of lost income; and that’s only up to $10,000.00. Drivers with healthcare insurance are paying for PIP insurance that may overlap, thus double paying; this is especially costly for veterans, and the elderly who are already covered under federal health plans. A bigger problem is that, according to information provided to a panel of the Florida Senate, Florida drivers are paying insurance premiums that are among the country’s five highest for some of the lowest required coverage amounts. The vast majority of states do not have Florida’s no fault system that continues to riddled with fraud and leaves many victims responsible for their medical bills caused by the negligence of another driver.
The proposed legislation that passed the House committee, HB 19, attempts to address these issues by requiring drivers to carry at least $25,000 in liability coverage for bodily insurance or death, and $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people. This would have been a substantial and long overdue departure from current law. The currently filed Senate version would create a medical payment or MedPay coverage mandate of $5,000, which would in effect provide coverage substantially similar to the current PIP medical benefit; the senate version also lowers the limits of required liability coverage to $20,000 per person. Multiple studies indicate that these reforms will bring down rates for automobile insurance premiums, creating an opportunity for drivers to buy more coverage if that is what they decide is right for them. The Senate bill has yet to be heard in any committees.
As things stand, Florida drivers are only required to be financially responsible for $10,000 in bodily injury they cause but they don not have to purchase insurance coverage for this ammount. Drivers can increase their financial protection in the event of an accident by purchasing bodily injury and uninsured motorist insurance coverage. If you or a loved one is hurt in an accident and can only look to your PIP coverage for payment of medical bills and other costs, you may find yourself in a vulnerable financial situation while trying to recover from an accident that caused serious medical injuries and prevents you from working.
If you live in Florida and you want to save money on your vehicle insurance and force those who are responsible for motor vehicle accidents to pay for the damage that they cause, we urge you to contact your elected officials by clicking the button below and tell them to pass “the Responsible Roadways Act” this year.
In the Meantime feel free to Contact Us for a Free Case Review
To maximize recoveries and minimize delay, claimants should turn to experienced attorneys. Contact the attorneys at The Garvin Injury Law for a free case review. We are a father and son team of personal injury attorneys, our office has been representing Floridians for the last 40 years; our office has the passion and drive to provide you and your loved one with the highest level of legal advocacy. Should you have any questions about purchasing car insurance, or if you have been the victim of a Florida auto accident and are unsure whether the other driver has liability insurance or what it covers, please do not hesitate to contact us at 239-277-0005 or via our online form. Whether we are representing a car accident victim or advocating for family members of someone wrongfully killed, the team at our Fort Myers-based firm passionately represents our clients’ interests.