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Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Info Series 3 of 3

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Concluding our three-part discussion of issues involving Florida’s PIP laws, this blog will explore possible ways in which the Florida Legislature can resolve such issues.  Firstly, Florida Legislature needs to revisit the PIP Statute and consider passing an amendment to give it the effect that was originally intended when it was created in 1971.  In its current incarnation, the PIP Statute gives insurance companies too much leeway to gouge policyholders and claimants who are rightfully entitled to PIP benefits.  It also needs to consider raising the minimum requirement to meet contemporary medical costs.  Only by revisiting and recognizing the original purpose of the PIP Statute can we improve Florida’s no-fault system (i.e. improve Florida’s PIP laws).

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Alternatively, Florida Legislature needs to consider repealing the PIP Statute altogether due to the numerous questions raised throughout the years regarding its effectiveness.  In fact, in 2013, a Florida Senate Bill that would have repealed mandatory PIP was introduced, but later delayed.  The bill was created by lawmakers in order to address skyrocketing insurance costs and reasoned that repealing mandatory PIP would save drivers money on their premiums.  And in December 2015, another Bill repealing PIP was introduced.  But before it can repeal Florida’s PIP Statute, Florida Legislature must consider the effects on injured drivers and passengers.  Where will they obtain treatment and how will they pay for such treatment?  What if the injured driver was at fault?  Are we to leave injured drivers with no means to obtain medical treatment because they were at fault in causing a motor vehicle accident?

Even further, Florida Legislature must consider whether automobile insurance premiums will actually reduce if Florida’s PIP Statute is repealed.  For instance, Kentucky is one of three (3) states that provide insured drivers with the option to reject no-fault coverage.  In doing so, these insured drivers essentially choose the right to sue and be sued regardless of the amount in medical costs.  They also essentially choose to reject benefits if they are found at-fault.  But the website for Kentucky’s Department of Insurance specifically states that liability insurance premiums may be higher due to no-fault rejection since others will have the same right to sue the rejector for injuries regardless of the amount in medical costs.

In addressing the problems with Florida’s PIP Statute, Florida Legislature may want to consider the alternative adopted by “add-on” states.  Currently, four (4) states have “add-on” no-fault laws that allow drivers to purchase additional no-fault coverage as an optional coverage.  In these states, the “add-on” coverage operates in a manner similar to Florida’s optional uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) coverage.  The “add-on” coverage pays benefits to the injured regardless of fault, but the injured can still sue and be sued for accident-related injuries along with pain and suffering.  This, in turn, leaves most of the control over premiums in the drivers’ hands.

 

 

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