The bill to eliminate to the current Florida no fault auto insurance law known as PIP is on Governor Ron Destantis’ desk. The Republican led House and Senate passed a repeal of PIP overwhelmingly in a bipartisan vote in April. The House voted for the measure by a vote of 100-13 while the Senate voted 37-3 in support.
The bill was strongly backed by the Florida trial lawyers. Usually strong supporters of the Democrats, the trial bar was able to persuade the Republican legislature to repeal PIP. Proponents pointed to a 2016 Pinnacle Study that rates could come down for most car owners and argued that those at fault in an accident should pay for damages. The bill also increased the amount of insurance a car owner must carry from $10,000 to $25,000
Opponents of the bill argued that the bill was rushed through the process and given little attention due to COVID limitations that limited the ability to effectively lobby against the bill. If signed, the bill would remove the current Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy, which gives insured Floridians $10,000 to cover the costs of medical injuries in a vehicle crash. Benefits are are given no matter who is at fault in an auto incident.
The potential new system would switch to a tort system for claims. An injured person would have to hire a lawyer in order to get their medical bills paid for by the person at fault. It would likely delay payments and many cases would likely end up in a full-blown trial. Opponents of the bill called it the “full employment act” for lawyers.
Tallahassee insiders have reported to FCV that DeSantis is likely to veto the bipartisan bill because the new Pinnacle study has shown that rates could increase by over 13% which would likely also cause the number of uninsured motorists to skyrocket due to the increased cost for auto insurance. That is exactly what happened when similar changes to the auto insurance system were made in Colorado. Florida already has a high number of uninsured motorists (26%) as well as some of the highest rates in the nation.
FCV has also been told that legislators who supported the bill are now asking DeSantis to veto it based on the latest study that shows the rate increase. Republicans who still support the measure of the bill will not appreciate the likely DeSantis’ veto. Supporters of DeSantis point out the bill looks to be a political weapon aimed against him: if he vetoes it, he sparks tensions with Republican allies; if he signs it, insurances rates are likely to rise, and DeSantis would be blamed.
Insurance hikes could throw a thorn in DeSantis’ 2022 governor reelection campaign if he directly signed legislation related to it. The Governor has 15 days to make his decision on the controversial measure.
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