Florida drivers could save up to $81 per car by ending the state’s no-fault car insurance system, research shows, but a state Senate bill discussed Tuesday neutralizes most of the savings as a 2018 showdown shapes up.
SB 150 would “protect hospitals frankly,” Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, told his chamber’s banking and insurance committee.
That’s by requiring drivers to buy $5,000 in medical payments coverage to cover injuries in accidents, no matter how much health insurance drivers already have from Medicare, employer plans or other policies. Lobbyists for hospitals and doctors have argued that is necessary to make sure drivers have at least some coverage in an accident, though legislative proposals they favor would make everyone buy it, not just those who cannot demonstrate they already have health insurance.
A House bill that repeals the no-fault system without requiring medical payments coverage is headed for the chamber floor when the session opens in January.
The Senate panel adjourned Tuesday in mid-discussion, but officials said a vote was likely at its next meeting in a few weeks.
Since the 1970s, Florida has made drivers to buy $10,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection coverage for injuries in minor accidents regardless of who is at fault. Sponsors of both Senate and House plans agree it’s a fraud-plagued and flawed system and Florida should join nearly every other state in requiring bodily-injury liability insurance, which most of the state’s drivers already carry anyway. But the bills differ importantly on how to get there.
Florida drivers pay among the five highest car insurance premiums in the nation, for some of the lowest required coverage amounts, a state Senate panel heard last session. Florida lets unsafe drivers avoid responsibility for what they do while safe drivers are forced to pay the bill through rising PIP rates, repeal supporters say.
Paying twice for health insurance is “like double taxation,” as one Delray Beach driver has put it.