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Personal Injury Protection Faces Critics As Florida Insurance Rates Rise

As you may likely know, Florida is one of ten states to have no fault personal injury protection. The purpose is to provided injured drivers up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage, in lieu of establishing fault in an accident. The policy was meant to reduce payment delay for injured drivers, and is required to be purchased by all owners of motor vehicles registered in Florida. Each driver is responsible for their own injuries, regardless of fault.

However, many see Personal Injury Protection as an unnecessary government mandate that is costly and prone to fraud, while duplicating coverage many already have through their Medicare or private health plans. Although the no-fault system has been in place for over forty years, there recently has been discussion regarding whether it is time to end the system once and for all.

Cost Of Insurance Premiums

A state Senate panel recently heard that Florida drivers pay among the nation’s highest insurance premiums for relatively low coverage amounts. Although the mandatory limits are relatively low, Floridian drivers pay the fifth-highest auto premiums in the country. Many are now making the case that this is evidence demonstrating the no-fault system is failing to achieve its goals.

Personal injury protection burdens Florida drivers for rate increases averaging 25 percent since the start of 2015, even if they never get in an accident. There are over 15 million drivers in Florida, and each could save an average of $81 a car if the personal injury protection system was repealed. This amounts to a staggering $1 billion a year in savings for Florida households.

These savings are valid, even when considering projected increases in other parts of car insurance bills, such as bodily-injury liability premiums. The savings apply if Florida lawmakers vote to repeal personal injury protection without imposing new requirements that offset the impact.

A Double Taxation

Many Florida drivers are upset that they are forced to by medical coverage for their car insurance to cover injuries even if they are not at fault in an accident. Many already have health insurance from Medicare, employer plans, or other sources. Even if they never get in an accident, they are at the mercy of the personal injury protection rate increases. So essentially, they are paying twice for one service – a service that is often not utilized at all. Even if it is utilized, it is done so on very rare occasions. The state-mandated personal injury protection coverage often accounts for nearly a quarter of Floridians’ car insurance bill.

As previously mentioned, it is possible that legislators vote to repeal personal injury protection without imposing new requirements. However, one alternative is to require bodily injury liability insurance, which more than 90 percent of Florida drivers already have. Again, Florida drivers are paying double for policies, proving costly and ineffective.

Could Repeal Be On The Way?

Senator Jeff Brandes, from St. Petersburg, plans to again file legislation to repeal the state’s no-fault insurance requirement. This legislation has been filed in the past, but has not received hearing. However, recent updates demonstrating the true cost of personal injury protection that burdens Floridians could make this legislative session different. Legislators seem to want to focus on how personal injury protection affects consumer rates, and how savings could be passed to drivers.

At the very least, it is reasonable to hope for discussion regarding the policy. Personal injury protection has grown very fraudulent, although efforts have been made by legislators to curtail this. However, the rising costs and rate increases could be paving the way to a new age of Florida law, where personal injury protection is no longer required.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

Personal Injury Protection Faces Critics As Florida Insurance Rates Rise

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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