Florida PIP Update
The return of no-fault auto insurance to Florida got back on track earlier when House Republicans backed off their efforts to use the bill to limit lawyer fees. The House approved re-enacting no-fault medical coverage, on a vote of 105-4. Reps. Will Kendrick, Don Brown, Aaron Bean and Carlos Lopez-Cantera opposed it. The current deal before the House and Senate reinstates mandatory medical coverage as of the day the measure is signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, and changes what’s covered in that Personal Injury Protection on Jan. 1. The state’s no-fault system also would restart on the date the bill becomes law. However, the re-enactment of PIP doesn’t affect motorists whose car insurance policies have already renewed since Oct. 1. That leaves a segment of Florida’s driving public that, even if they voluntarily buy personal injury protection, must still live for four months under a system torts — lawsuits for fault-finding in car crashes. Any accident they are involved in can end in a lawsuit, against either them or against those in the other vehicle. For those consumers, bill author Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff has this advice as a practicing insurance agent. "Buy more uninsured motorists coverage. You might want to protect yourself," she said. Florida insurers will adapt to whatever the Legislature passes, said Sam Miller, vice president of the Florida Insurance Council, one of the industry’s state trade groups.
They must contend with the prospect of handling claims involving different medical coverage and even differing legal systems. "Companies work with that in the vast majority of states," said Miller. "National insurers know exactly how the tort system works."