What’s at Stake with the ‘No Fault’ Repeal?
On January 2018, the Florida House of Representatives voted in favor to repeal the no-fault car insurance system through the House Bill 19 (HB19). The new bill seeks to increase the amounts of coverage through a form of civil liability benefiting both the plaintiff and the defendant in the event of a traffic accident. The bill also adds reforms to avoid possible frauds, a fact that is the main cause of the increase in the values of the policies.
As explained earlier in a Zarzaur Law blog-post, the No-fault auto insurance allows policyholders to recover financial losses from their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the car accident. The minimum coverage amounts under the No-fault law are $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL). No-fault insurances also include a pain-and-suffering coverage in case policyholders suffer from physical or emotional distress as a result of the accident or is being sued by other parties affected in the accident for suffering this kind of distress.
Since the application of the no-fault law, PIP coverage, as well as pain-and-suffering, have represented the largest items of reimbursement in Florida (Ryan et al., 2017). This situation has led insurance companies to perceive being victims of frauds and abuses. Although reforms were made in 2012 through House of Bill 119 (HB 119), the measure has not been able to reduce the companies’ costs which will inevitably lead to increased policy prices. For this reason, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America propose the repeal of the No-fault system and replacing it with a mandatory $25,000/$50,000 bodily injured liability (BI) coverage, a $10,000 PDL as a prospective solution to the problem. Once the bill passed to the Senate, they included an additional $5,000 for Medical Payments (MP) coverage. In order to avoid future frauds, the proposal also includes a Bad Faith reform and a No pay, No play law which will prohibit drivers with no insurance to claim for financial compensations.
Car accidents leave thousands of people seriously injured every year. According to a study by the National Safety Council, the estimated cost of death, injuries and damages caused by traffic accidents was $432 billion in 2016. Expenses incurred by car accident victims not only are high, but other expenses also harm their quality of life, such as their inability to continue working and eventual loss of their jobs, as well as damage to their property. The minimum coverages are often not enough to cover all the damages, especially when it comes to permanent and irreversible injuries caused to a human being.
Although much has been said about the interest of lawyers for the repeal of the law, let’s not forget that lawyers have the moral and ethical imperative to serve their clients. It is the duty of attorneys to ensure that those who have financial responsibility in an accident comply with their part. Attorneys will always seek the welfare of the client with or without the repeal.
The fate of the bill is now in the hands of the Senate committee (SB 150). Their primary concern is the increase in the policies’ prices the new law would impose. Although the bill has been postponed, we hope discussions about this new policy moves forward so to improve the car insurance system for the well-being of all Floridians.
Pensacola Personal Injury Attorney, Joe Zarzaur works in all areas of personal injury including car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle and boating accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall and wrongful death.
We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation.
CS/HB 19 – Motor Vehicle Insurance. (n.d.). Florida House of Representatives. Retrieved from https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=60053&SessionId=86
Insurance Information Institute (2014) Background on: No-fault auto insurance. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-no-fault-auto-insurance
Ryan, T., Schaaffe, D. & Walsh, S. (2018, January 25). Florida personal auto insurance impact of repealing no-fault coverage. Retrieved from http://3o15h033zmpwracwx2i00rqx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Impact-of-Repealing-No-Fault_Final.pdf
National Safety Council. (n.d.) Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates. Retrieved from http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/2017/12-month-estimates.pdf
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