April 17, 2017

Under Florida’s no-fault system, motorists are required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage, which is designed to pay medical bills after accidents. But that $10,000 figure could soon increase.

The proposal would eliminate the $10,000 no-fault coverage in 2018 while mandating motorists get at least $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death and $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people.

Florida drivers are only required to carry personal injury protection of at least $10,000 to pay for medical benefits after an accident.  But the people pushing for House Bill 1063, i.e., the insurance industry, suggest $10,000 isn’t enough when health care costs are rising.

Abandoning no-fault for bodily injury, which provides coverage if motorists cause accidents that hurt someone else, would put more questions of medical coverage into the courts, as injured parties would seek to recoup expenses from at-fault drivers.

More than 90 percent of motorists have PIP and some form of bodily-injury coverage, which is why most motorists would be projected to see a savings from eliminating no-fault with HB 1063. However, the change could negatively impact health care premiums.

Since 2015, rates have gone up 25.7 percent. Meanwhile, all liability coverage has gone up 23.4 percent the past two years. The increases are due to rises in medical care, costs of vehicle body work, people driving more, and an increase in distracted drivers. How much you save depends on whom you are, how much you drive, and how many cars you insure.

Lawmakers supporting the bill predict the average driver will save about $81 a year for each vehicle they insure, but critics forecast costs will ultimately increase later. The costs would rise higher in Tampa Bay. In Hillsborough County, getting car insurance would cost $308 more on average for those who have the bare minimum now, according to a statewide report commissioned by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation. In Pinellas, that would become a $385 annual increase. Rates vary depending on a county’s traffic density, percentage of uninsured drivers, and accident rates.

Currently, drivers and passengers get car damages and PIP paid for up to $10,000, no matter who is at fault in an accident. Drivers have to pay an additional cost to insurance companies to pay for bodily injuries, which cover them if they are at fault. The insurance industry is pushing to scrap PIP and instead require all motorists to carry coverage that includes bodily injury if they are at fault.

HB 1063 is now moving through the state legislature, which calls for eliminating Florida’s no-fault insurance plan. Consult a Corless Barfield Trial Group attorney to understand changes to automobile insurance policies and learn about your rights by calling 813-258-4998 if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident.