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PIP repeal legislation advances through first Senate committee

The Brandon Republican got the win, in a 6-1 vote, on his birthday.

Tom Lee’s bill ( SB 371) to repeal Personal Injury Protection (PIP) overcame its first hurdle Tuesday. The Brandon Republican got the win, in a 6-1 vote in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee, on his birthday.

Lee’s legislation would do away with PIP in favor of bodily injury liability coverage. It would require drivers carry at least $25,000 in liability for the death or injury of one person in a crash and $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people in a crash. There is still a $10,000 coverage mandate for property damage. Under the current PIP law, the insured person can get up to $10,000 for an emergency condition and up to $2,500 for a non-emergency condition.

His bill provides $5,000 in optional medical payments and includes a death benefit of at least $5,000.  State Rep. Erin Grall is sponsoring a similar bill (HB 771).

R.J. Lehmann is the director of finance, insurance and trade policy at the think tank R Street Institute. He said they support the legislation despite concerns about switching to tort system could have unintended consequences. Under PIP, there’s a limit on filing lawsuits. With liability coverage, the driver who causes the accident is responsible for paying for the damages.

Lehmann said they support Lee’s bill because medical payments are optional, instead of mandated like in earlier versions of PIP repeal bills. But he also argues that Florida should consider limiting third-party lawsuits against insurers.

But the American Property Casualty Insurance Association opposes the legislation because of tort law concerns. Logan McFaddin, APCIA assistant vice president of state government relations, said it doesn’t contain critical fixes to stop the rampant abuse of Florida’s bad faith law.

“In 2017 alone, Florida’s broken tort system had a $6.6 billion impact on premium costs,” he said in a statement. “Without addressing much needed bad faith reforms, Senate Bill 378 does not protect consumers from rising costs or remedy the laws that have led to an overburdened court system.”

Lee’s bill now heads to the Senate Banking and Insurance. 

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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