Drivers could save billions if Florida dumps no-fault system, study says

Driver Michael Dorsett (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

Driver Michael Dorsett (Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

Florida’s more than 15 million drivers could save an average of $81 per year if the state drops its costly and troubled no-fault Personal Injury Protection system after four decades, a study released Wednesday shows.

That is a net savings even with a projected increase in another part of their car insurance bill, bodily-injury liability premiums, according to a $125,000 study state officials commissioned from Pinnacle Actuarial Resources Inc. of Bloomington, Ill.

At an average of $81 per insured vehicle, collective savings by Florida drivers could easily approach $1 billion a year.

Drivers like Michael Dorsett of Lake Worth told The Palm Beach Post they felt “robbed” by Personal Injury Protection premium increases up to 40 percent since the start of 2015, despite reforms backed by Gov. Rick Scott that were supposed to trim bills.

The annual savings would be about $67 in Palm Beach County, $130 in Broward and a whopping $272 in Miami-Dade County. Martin County premiums would be almost unchanged, and St. Lucie County drivers would save about $62, the study found.

PIP has covered minor injuries regardless of who is at fault in a Florida accident since the 1970s, but the system has been dogged by complaints of fraud and rising premiums despite multiple reform attempts. Florida stands today as one of just a handful of states using a no-fault system. Its drivers pay the nation’s fourth highest insurance bills.

Many drivers say they are upset Florida forces them to buy $10,000 of medical coverage no matter how much health insurance they already have from Medicare, employer plans or other sources. Even if individual drivers never get in an an accident, they are at the mercy of relentless PIP rate increases, particularly in South Florida. One Palm Beach County motorist called it “double taxation.”

 

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