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'PIP' Repeal Proposals Re-Emerge

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida's no-fault auto insurance system could be nearing the end of its road.
Legislation has again been filed to eliminate personal-injury protection coverage and require motorists to carry bodily injury liability coverage.

And lawmakers were told last week that personal-injury protection reforms — championed by Gov. Rick Scott and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater in 2012 — haven't held.

Still, Senate Banking and Insurance Chairwoman Anitere Flores said before legislation advances through her committee that could eliminate personal-injury protection coverage --- also known as no-fault — she wants to know if anything else can be done to bring down rates instead of scrapping the nearly four-decade-old system.

The Miami Republican added, at the same time, that her biggest concern going forward is that the 2012 reform effort hasn't met expectations.

In the first two years after Scott signed the reform law, personal-injury protection rates from the state's top 25 insurers dropped an average of 14.4 percent — 10 percentage points lower than desired.

Since 2015, rates have gone up 25.7 percent, according to the state Office of Insurance Regulation. Meanwhile, all liability coverage has gone up 23.4 percent the past two years.

"Unfortunately, since Jan. 1, 2015, we've seen increasing trends across all coverages, including PIP," said Sandra Starnes, director of property and casualty product review for the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

Starnes said the increases are due to rises in medical care, costs of vehicle body work, people driving more and even an increase in distracted drivers.

Flores' committee is scheduled to be the first of four stops for a measure (SB 156) by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, to replace no-fault with bodily injury liability coverage.

Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, has filed the House version (HB 461) for the 2017 legislative session, which starts March 7.

Similar efforts have failed to advance the past couple of years as proponents have argued a need to let the reform effort take hold. But since the end of 2015, Atwater has been among those saying repeal of no-fault may be needed if consumers aren't getting the intended relief.

Under the no-fault system, motorists are required to carry personal-injury protection coverage that includes $10,000 in medical benefits, a total set in 1979.