The Senate will consider the merits of repealing Florida's long-standing requirement for drivers to carry personal-injury protection insurance, but Senate President Joe Negron said it's important to ensure that any replacement coverage still provides Florida drivers access to medical coverage and funeral benefits.
“I think med pay (medical payments coverage) is an important component that we need to retain in the system,” Negron said Friday in an interview with The News Service of Florida. “It makes sure that an emergency room is compensated when someone appears for care after a motor vehicle accident.”
Moreover, Negron, R-Stuart, said it's important to maintain a burial benefit.
“I think if a terrible, unspeakable tragedy of someone getting killed in an automobile accident, and the family is having to adjust with that permanent alteration of their reality, to have a modest payment to make sure they can afford a funeral and a burial is not too much to ask. I will not support jettisoning that.”
The Legislature in 1972 passed a requirement that drivers carry $10,000 in personal-injury protection insurance in hopes of limiting the number of lawsuits stemming from traffic accidents. It provides benefits to the policyholder, regardless of who is at fault in an accident.
For health benefits, so-called PIP covers 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses. The benefit is reduced to $2,500 if a treating medical provider determines an emergency medical condition did not exist. PIP also provides policyholders 60 percent of their loss of income following accidents.
In the case of a death, PIP provides the policyholder a $5,000 death benefit. According to the Office of Insurance Regulation, Florida is one of 10 states to require drivers to carry PIP.
Senate Banking and Insurance Chairwoman Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said one of the first bills her committee will consider when it meets in early January is a PIP repeal (SB 150), filed by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa.
A House version (HB 19), filed by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, is ready to go to the House floor after the 2018 session starts Jan. 9.