New Bill Regarding Florida No-Fault Law
Imagine that you’re driving, slowing toward a stop as you approach a red light. Suddenly, a distracted driver rear-ends you, jolting you forcefully back into your headrest, and then forward into the steering wheel. Who pays for your medical treatment?
Under Florida’s current no-fault law, your own insurance — not from the driver at fault — would cover 80% of your medical bills, up to $10,000. If your treatment costs more than that, it would be YOUR responsibility to pay, unless the other driver carries Bodily Injury coverage on their policy.
A bill filed for the upcoming session of the Florida Legislature would repeal the No-Fault Law in favor of a policy relieving victims of car accidents from the burden of financial responsibility. The new policy requires individuals to carry Bodily Injury (BI) coverage rather than Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, a change that will make it so that the insurance of the person who is at fault will be responsible for covering all injured persons in an accident.
What is the Florida No-Fault Law?
Florida’s No-Fault Motor Vehicle Law requires every driver to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to cover themself, as a part of their auto insurance policy. This means that all injured parties have to rely on their own insurance coverage to pay for their medical expenses, regardless of whether they were at fault. The current policy absolves the negligent driver of financial responsibility if other parties are injured through their own carelessness.
Senate President Wilton Simpson understands the problem. “Florida is one of only two states in the country,” he said recently, “that does not currently require drivers to carry liability coverage that would immediately kick in if they cause the bodily injury or death of another person while operating a motor vehicle.”
It’s important that the man in charge of one-half of our Legislature recognizes that PIP coverage is outdated and doesn’t protect consumers and that it’s the right time for Florida to move to mandatory coverage for bodily injury liability.
What Happens if the Mandatory Bodily Injury Bill Passes?
This is good news for drivers. Without Bodily Injury mandates, negligent drivers can run a red light, injuring someone else, and have zero responsibility for the insurance implications. If BI is mandated, that driver will be required to carry coverage to pay out for those injury expenses.
In addition, I believe this change will lower insurance premiums for drivers across Florida because we’ll see an increase in accountability and an overall reduction in car accidents.
What to Expect:
- More Accountability. Negligent drivers will carry the responsibility for their actions, relieving injured victims.
- Safer Driving Habits. By making drivers responsible for the harm they may cause others, the legislation will encourage drivers to be more attentive and aware of their actions on the road.
- Lower Insurance Premiums. By holding people accountable and encouraging safer driving habits, we can hope to see a reduction in accidents. This would lead to lower premiums.
The Florida legislative session begins March 2, and lawmakers should pass this smart insurance reform quickly.
Article by Chuck Farah, Senior Partner at Farah & Farah.