Gov. Ron DeSantis has vetoed legislation that would have ended Florida’s no-fault rule after mounting pressure from critics who argued the bill would push up rates for many drivers.
The bill DeSantis vetoed (SB 54) cleared the Legislature in April, and landed on the Governor’s desk Monday.
The measure, carried through the Senate by Zephyrhills Republican Sen. Danny Burgess, sought to end the requirement that Floridians purchase $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and would instead require mandatory bodily injury (MBI) coverage that would payout up to $25,000 for a crash-related injury or death.
“While the PIP system has flaws and Florida law regarding bad faith is deficient … SB 54 does not adequately address the current issues facing Florida drivers and may have unintended consequences that would negatively impact both the market and consumers,” DeSantis wrote in his veto letter.
No-fault repeal has been a perennial effort in the Legislature. And part of the bill’s contents, namely bad faith reform, has been a target of some lawmakers for a decade.
DeSantis’ veto Tuesday means lawmakers will have to go back to the drawing board if they want to rework Florida’s auto insurance laws.
The no-fault system was established in Florida in 1979, along with the requirement of carrying $10,000 in PIP coverage. But, under the bill, the state would shift into a system where parties litigate over who caused accidents.
Although repeal was popular in both chambers — the House approved it in a 100-16 vote, and the Senate in a 37-3 vote — the legislation faced opposition from several lawmakers, as well as some insurance and medical groups.
Democratic Sens. Lauren Book and Jason Pizzo voted against it, as did Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who argued the bill would increase the insurance rates on the poorest Floridians, possibly by half.
Several insurance and medical groups also voiced support for the current system, which compensates medical providers without drivers having to go to court to determine fault. Opponents of the bill have begun pushing for DeSantis to veto it since the legislation cleared the Legislature.
PIP coverage pays out regardless of which party is responsible for an accident and it does so quickly. MBI coverage, however, doesn’t pay out until a fault determination is made, which can leave health care providers or patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical bills while they wait for a claim to resolve.
Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has said he is “hesitant” to support the repeal, according to The News Service of Florida. Altmaier’s office Monday released an actuarial study that found repealing PIP would result in an overall increase in premiums of 13.3% for all coverages combined, or $202 a year for the average vehicle. The analysis was ordered by Altmaier and conducted by Pinnacle Actuarial Resources Inc.
The Florida Insurance Council, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, and the Florida Chiropractic Physician Association also took part in the veto campaign.
But, proponents of the bill, including plaintiffs’ lawyers and Senate President Wilton Simpson, argued that a majority of motorists, who already carry bodily injury coverage, would see rate savings. Supporters also argued that rates would go down because the change would reduce fraud that has long plagued the PIP system.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. 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, or by requesting a free case review through our website.
Content from The News Service of Florida was used in this report with permission.