-Written by Calli M. Brockett, Esq.
March 31, 2021
In a push toward aligning Florida with the majority of other States, the Florida Legislature is pushing forward SB 54, filed by Senator Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, which would eliminate the no-fault auto-insurance coverage which Floridians currently are mandated to obtain. Under the current no-fault system, drivers are required to carry personal-injury protection, or PIP, coverage to help pay medical bills after accidents. Motorists are required to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage, an amount unchanged since 1979. Members of the Florida Senate and House have brought up the idea of ending the no-fault system since 2012, arguing that the system can be taken advantage of and fraud can take place. Instead, Senator Burgess’ proposal would mandate motorists carry at minimum $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for the injury or death of one person in an accident and $50,000 for injuries or deaths of two or more people. The proposal would keep the current $10,000 financial responsibility requirement for property damage. Insurers would also be required to offer medical payments coverage starting at $5,000, with deductibles up to $500. Senator Burgess noted that “[t]his has been a bill that has been before us for a number of years and this is the year we need to look to finally put this issue to bed and ensure that Florida has joined 48 other states in the union in doing so.”
While lawmakers have considered this move for years, it has stalled in the Florida Legislature for several reasons. One of the main arguments touted by supporters of the bill is that the PIP system is plagued by fraud, and by changing to a more updated system insurance premiums will decrease. Opponents of the bill note that such a repeal may not actually reduce insurance premiums, and would be detrimental to the those making the least, such as Florida’s large retirement community, who often only buy the minimum coverages.
This bill was heard before the Senate on March 25, 2021, and on that date was retained on a Special Order Calendar SJ-311, indicating a second reading of the bill will be heard.
So, will this bill pass and what does it mean for you? As noted earlier, various versions of this bill have been floating around the legislature for almost a decade. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the current version will align with all the various parties voting on this bill. However, if it does pass, there is no need to worry! Your insurance coverage won’t change on a dime without your knowledge. Most likely, the change will come incrementally and PIP coverage will be slowly phased out, until everyone has switched over to only Bodily Injury Coverage. However, it will be quite a while before this proposed bill could become law, and then be applied. So stay tuned! We will keep you updated on this interesting insurance coverage change and how it affects you!