Historic no-fault PIP repeal set for July 1, 2018 under House bill

A bill to repeal Florida’s no-fault car insurance system after almost 50 years moved within one step of final passage in the state House on Tuesday, potentially bringing rate relief to drivers in a way that a Senate version would not.

Florida requires some of the lowest coverage amounts in the country yet drivers pay among the eight highest premiums.

Accident victim Paul Davidson: “For the life of me, I don’t see the purpose of PIP.” (Damon Higgins/Palm Beach Post)

In an amendment on the chamber floor, lawmakers pushed back the effective date to July 1, 2018 from Jan. 1 to allow time for insurers and drivers to prepare.

The PIP system is “broken and does not serve its purpose any longer, ” said sponsor Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach.

HB 1063 would end the state’s requirement that drivers  buy $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection to cover a driver or passenger’s own injuries in minor car accidents no matter who is at fault. The system was created in 1971.

Under the bill, Florida would join most other states by requiring bodily injury liability coverage to cover injuries to others, in this case $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

An actuarial study lost fall found repealing PIP could save Florida drivers up to $81 per car even after increases in some other kinds of coverage. Drivers saved an average of 5.6 percent with 25/50 BI coverage.

A Senate bill still working its way through committees, SB 1766 by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, would make similar moves but also require $5,000 in medical payments coverage. Lee said the reason is to make sure drivers with no health insurance have some coverage to help pay emergency bills.

Grall has said that essentially reconstitutes PIP under another name and wipes out savings for most drivers, forcing the vast majority to duplicate medical coverage they already have from Medicare, employer plans or other sources.

Bicyclist Paul Davidson of Boynton Beach told The Palm Beach Post a collision with a vehicle knocked him 60 feet and caused permanent disfiguration of his face last year, but its driver was not required to carry any coverage for hurting others. That left him to pay more than $10,000 out of pocket even after his health insurance kicked in, he said.

“For the life of me, I don’t see the purpose of PIP,” he said. “Basically the other individual bore no responsibility at all for what happened.”

 

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