Every driver in the state should thank Gov. Ron DeSantis for saving them from new and more costly automobile insurance policies.
The Governor is a longtime champion for insurance reform, as reflected in a number of measures he has signed or rejected to benefit millions of Floridians and promote the long-term sustainability of the state’s insurance market.
Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 54 with little debate. But the bill quickly drew heavy criticism for seeking to replace auto insurance personal injury protection (PIP) coverage with bodily injury coverage limits, potentially leading to higher rates and increasing the number of uninsured drivers.
The bill would have raised health insurance costs as well.
Lawmakers said the bill would have the exact opposite effect, ultimately lowering premiums for most drivers. But this was really just an assumption, not based on any hard data or detailed analysis. In fact, this was part of the reason the Governor vetoed the legislation — in his veto message, he noted that the bill “does not adequately address the current issues facing Florida drivers and may have unintended consequences that would negatively impact both the market and consumers.”
Florida already requires drivers to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage, which covers medical and funeral costs regardless of who was at fault in an accident. Florida is one of only two states that doesn’t require bodily insurance coverage.
SB 54 would have brought one of the biggest shake-ups of the state’s auto insurance laws in the past 50 years, forcing every motorist to carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage and requiring insurers to offer up to $10,000 in medical payments coverage.
It’s estimated this would have led hundreds of thousands of Floridians to drop their coverage because they wouldn’t have been able to afford higher premiums. Such an increase in uninsured motorists would have spiked costs for every other driver on the road, who would have been stuck with the financial burden of carrying the uninsured when they had an accident.
This veto reinforces DeSantis’ commitment to acting in the best interest of all Floridians – especially when paired with his approval of assignment of benefits changes in Senate Bill 76, which was designed to give relief to Florida’s property insurance sector by prohibiting contractors from soliciting homeowners to file roofing claims, as well as offsetting the rise of property insurance premiums.
SB 54 didn’t attract much high-profile opposition before it was passed, but afterward, it was criticized by everyone from insurance and medical groups to business groups like Associated Industries of Florida.
“Gov. DeSantis’ strong dedication to the state’s insurance reform efforts is continuing to reduce the burden of property and automobile insurance for all Floridians,” said Brewster Bevis, AIF’s senior vice president of State and Federal Affairs. “His continued efforts will not only promote affordable insurance policies but also stabilize and positively impact the state’s insurance market as a whole.”
Lawmakers have been trying to kill PIP for years and thought they had finally succeeded this time.
The Governor’s veto shows that he will continue to put insurance reform under a microscope and won’t accept something that doesn’t reflect the kind of reforms he wants to see.