Florida senators are moving forward with a plan to eliminate the state’s no-fault auto insurance system.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, the Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved SB 54, a bill that would eliminate no-fault while mandating that motorists carry bodily injury coverage.
Under the current no-fault system, drivers in Florida are required to hold personal-injury protection, or PIP.
PIP is intended to help motorists pay medical bills after an accident. For decades, Florida state law has set the minimum PIP coverage amount at $10,000. Danny Burgess, the Zephyrhills Republican backing the bill, said that particular amount is not relevant in modern times.
“The $10,000 is a number derived from 1979,” Burgess said. “The number has not changed since.
“Fast forward to 2021, we’re still at $10,000. And so, the buying value of $10,000 in 1979, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, equates to about $1,252 today. So, you can see that that money doesn’t really go very far.”
The Capitolist notes that the Florida Legislature has floated the idea of ending no-fault since at least 2012. Among the most enduring arguments against the current system is the notion that it is unusually susceptible to fraud, at least in comparison to alternative types of policy.
If approved, Burgess’s bill would require that Florida motorists carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage, which would be paid out following the injury or death of an individual. If two or more people were injured or killed in a crash, that amount would increase to $50,000.
SB 52 includes other benefits or changes—auto insurers would, for instance, be responsible for medical payments after $5,000.
But like other aspects of the United States’ broken health care system, potential patients would also be responsible for a co-pay—amounts for which would start at $500.
Several of Burgess’s Republican expressed concerned that raising minimum limits on insurance policies would have a disproportionate impact on low-income residents—possibly encouraging more people to drive without insurance.
“We have to address in this legislation the issue of uninsured drivers and create a stronger incentive than simply a suspended driver’s license,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg). “That is what’s driving rates through the roof. […] Ultimately, it’s the fact that you’re having to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars in premiums for uninsured motorists, because you have a one in four shot of having somebody hit you that carries zero insurance. And that is untenable and unsustainable. And that’s really what’s driving rates.”
A recent amendment, adopted by the Senate on Monday, would reduce coverage requirements for lower-income motorists.
Of course, this would mean that such low-income motorists would still be spending more money on insurance—while receiving far fewer medical benefits than their higher-earning peers.
The Tampa Bay Times states that SB 52 could move to vote once the Florida Senate resumes its regular session on March 2nd. A similar bill—HB 719—may be up for consideration in the House, too.