No-fault repeal backfired in Colorado. It could backfire here, too.

upset man after car crash
The repeal poses a substantial financial risk to Floridians.

As a sign of trial lawyers’  growing influence in the Legislature, a bill to repeal no-fault auto insurance passed its final Senate committee in a party-line vote.

SB 54 would replace no-fault insurance, also known as Personal Injury Protection, with Mandatory Bodily Injury Insurance. The bill is being championed by the Florida Justice Association.

PIP insurance provides $10,000 for medical expenses and lost wages for people injured in a crash. It is purchased by the driver for their use, regardless of fault. The statute’s intent is to provide Floridians with quick payment of benefits for injuries after a crash.

Those who believe PIP is working cite the fact that most insurers in Florida refunded 15% to 20% refunds to policyholders last year. But some, led by the trial bar, claim PIP is broken and should be replaced with MBI coverage.

The last major revisions to auto insurance came in 2012 to help address rising rates. The impact of this legislation extended to providers, fee schedules, claims procedures, and fraud rates, and included mandatory rate-filing monitoring.

Nevertheless, a few years ago, FJA and other MBI advocates started pointing to Colorado to illustrate how they believed rates would decrease if Florida switched from a no-fault system to an MBI, or tort, system.

Colorado abandoned its no-fault system in 2003 in favor of MBI. At first, premiums went down — a point FJA has latched onto and trotted out in committee meetings. Yet Colorado’s auto insurance premiums are rising rapidly.

The state is currently third in the nation for rising car insurance premiums, and the volume of auto insurance litigation is growing, as are awards.

Needless to say, the switch has backfired, and FJA no longer cites Colorado as evidence an MBI system would be better for Florida drivers.

With no public outcry against the current PIP system due to the recent rate decrease and given the negative impact of MBI in Colorado, opponents of the bill say it could be a major miscalculation for Florida to move to MBI.

For one, Florida already has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the country at 26.7%, and Colorado’s PIP-to-MBI switch caused a 16% increase in uninsured drivers.

If Florida changes to MBI and insurance rates increase, rates will increase only for people who have insurance.

MBI is based on the premise that people who cause a crash should take financial responsibility for the damages they caused. Those who opposed MBI believe it does not account for Florida’s unique position in the marketplace.

Over 100 million tourists visit the state annually, and most of them drive on our roads and highways. Many are either uninsured, do not carry insurance that matches Florida coverage or reject insurance products offered by the rental car companies. The rental car companies are immune from liability under current law.

Florida already leads the nation in uninsured drivers. Therefore, a new MBI statute eliminating PIP in all probability will result in a vastly increased number of injured motorists without coverage, just like in Colorado.

For the many of Floridians without health care insurance, this problem is compounded when an injured person cannot find a doctor to treat them.

If they do get treatment, they will rack up medical expenses waiting for their MBI case to work its way through the courts. By contrast, PIP pays physicians within 30 days getting a bill.

The potential far-reaching fallout of PIP repeal must be carefully examined. The repeal poses a substantial financial risk to Floridians and, considering the decrease in PIP premiums in 2020, it’s difficult to understand why the state would move to MBI in 2021.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


4 comments

  • Cris Boyar

    March 21, 2021 at 10:33 pm

    If PIP is replaced with mandatory BI then trial lawyers will make an extra $3333 to $4000 on every new case without having to prove a permanent impairment.

  • Sonja Fitch

    March 22, 2021 at 5:17 am

    Enough of the self serving rich shits! The common good is the only successful benefit to serve and protect Floridians ! This legislature seems to be proposing bs changes for bs reasons! Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the elections in 2022!

  • brad

    March 22, 2021 at 9:16 am

    This article is ridiculous. Florida doesn’t require Bodily Injury Coverage now and that is why we have so many “uninsured” drivers.
    And this statement is totally untrue “Those who believe PIP is working cite the fact that most insurers in Florida refunded 15% to 20% refunds to policyholders last year.” Geez I guess my check got lost in the mail. I carry high limits and have to buy uninsured motorists coverage to protect myself and family and it is like a mortgage payment every month. PIP pays $10,000 and how far does that get you, into the ER? And the average premium is $150 every 6 months. It’s a joke and the insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

  • vince

    March 22, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    More Bs. the 10k pip. has been at same level over forty years. no cost of living increase ever added while premiums keep going up. never down. beware what u wish for

Comments are closed.


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