Here’s a fact that we can probably all agree on: no one in Florida enjoys paying auto insurance. Despite laws that require every driver to have insurance, our state has one of the lowest percentages of car insurance coverage nationwide.
Why? Different people probably have different answers, but cost has to be up there. After all, the Sunshine State also has some of the most expensive car insurance rates in the country, and a big reason why is PIP.
Lawmakers have been working for years to make changes to our current system of personal injury protection (PIP). Well, another round of changes might be coming soon. While it is designed to save the vast majority of drivers money, it also makes big changes to who has to pay after a car accident in Florida.
Pay attention to House Bill 1063 and Senate Bill 1768 in the next few months. They affect everyone who gets behind the wheel of an automobile in Florida.
The Changes to Florida Auto Accident Insurance (and the Elimination of PIP)
Currently, Florida drivers need to hold $10,000 of personal injury protection coverage. PIP is a no-fault coverage that covers medical bills and other damages after an auto accident, no matter who caused it. If damages go over $10,000, drivers have to fall back on bodily injury coverage (which is not required by Florida law) or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
The proposed changes eliminate PIP as a requirement. Instead, drivers would have to carry bodily injury coverage that covers up to $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 to multiple people.
What Does That Mean For Florida Drivers?
The vast majority of Florida drivers already hold the bodily injury coverage that will be required if these changes become law. This means that many, many drivers will save money. According to research, most drivers will see an extra $81 a year in their pockets.
However, the drivers who do not currently hold bodily injury coverage will have to pay. Rate increases will vary by county, but most estimates fall between $250 to $350 per year for a driver who only carries the minimum amount of coverage.
After an auto accident, the elimination of no-fault coverage may slow down the rate at which drivers get their compensation. PIP was put in place so that drivers could get compensation fast, without having to prove that they were not at fault for the accident. With bodily injury coverage taking over as the main form of insurance, drivers may have a harder time receiving compensation in a timely manner – if at all.
The Pros and Cons of Changing PIP Coverage in Florida
Eliminating PIP is a big move for Florida. The coverage has been required of Florida drivers since 1979, and there are definitely both winners and losers that come out of these proposed changes.
Winners include the drivers who currently have bodily injury coverage and will see decreased rates as they continue to pay for auto insurance. These drivers, however, may “lose” if they can be found at-fault for an accident.
Another winner? Insurance companies. Insurance companies have always had a beef with PIP, claiming that it causes them to front unnecessary bills for drivers who caused an accident and don’t have to pay for any of the resulting damages.
Losers include the drivers who currently carry only the minimum PIP coverage, though lawmakers estimate this is no more than 7% of Florida drivers.
Doctors and hospitals may also lose with these changes. If an “at fault” driver has to be treated for injuries after an accident, and can’t receive compensation, then doctors and hospitals are left chasing patients and trying to collect bills.
The bottom line is that if you drive in Florida, these changes will affect you. If you have something to say about them, now is the time to talk to your representatives.
Injured in a Florida auto accident? Talk to a personal injury lawyer today.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.