Florida Legislature to Consider Vast Changes to Auto Insurance Requirements

A month ago, the Florida legislature initiated a debate that may herald massive changes to Florida's auto insurance requirements during the 2012 legislative session. If those changes occur, they are likely to change your insurance requirements effective next July 1.

The issues involve the current PIP auto insurance, which I will explain in a moment, and whether Florida should adopt a mandatory bodily injury liability insurance model. PIP is an acronym for personal injury protection. It is commonly referred to in this state as no-fault insurance. It works like this. If you are in an auto accident, regardless of whom is at fault, your insurance will pay the first ten thousand dollars of your medical bills and your lost wages. If a death occurs, an allowance is also made for funeral expenses.

Consumer groups say that the insurance industry and their advocates in the legislature are trying to use potential changes in the PIP laws to limit the rights of injured motorists and to increase their profits. The Florida Justice Association and allied consumer groups are pushing back against that effort by arguing that the legislature adopt a mandatory bodily injury liability insurance system currently used in forty-eight states.

At the moment, Florida does not require a vehicle owner to have bodily injury liability insurance in effect to pay for injuries the driver causes to others. It requires only PIP and property damage coverage. Arguably, the Florida legislature has been more concerned about damage to cars than injuries and death.

If the mandatory bodily injury liability model is adopted in exchange for reducing or eliminating the PIP coverage, the new law will stem the tide of increasing numbers of motorists who are going bare of coverage that is designed to compensate people they injure. The legislature will go into session on January 10.

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