PIP v. Mandatory BI: What’s Necessary on Florida’s Roads?

Posted on: December 5, 2017
florida roads

Since its enactment, Florida’s personal injury protection statute (PIP), Fla. Stat. § 627.737, has been the subject of controversy.

It provides $10,000.00 for medical expenses and/or lost wages for injured parties arising from a motor vehicle crash that is purchased by the insured for his/her use, regardless of fault.

The statute’s intent is to provide quick payment of benefits for injuries from a motor vehicle crash,[1] providing Floridians with basic medical coverage when injured in a motor vehicle crash.

PIP protections will again be subject to being repealed and replaced with mandatory bodily injury (MBI) coverage.

Recently, House Bill 19[2] has sought to replace PIP with MBI coverage of $25,000.00 per person, $50,000.00 per occurrence.

While this legislation’s noble goal is to make certain that every person who causes a motor vehicle crash will have minimum financial responsibility for the damages caused, it overlooks the unique aspects of Florida.

Tourism/the uninsured: In 2016, nearly 113,000,000 tourists visited,[3] many driving the highways of the state.

Many of those tourists are uninsured or do not carry the minimum financial responsibility that matches Florida coverage.

Tourists who rent motor vehicles often rely on insurance from their home locale and/or reject insurance products offered by the rental car companies (which are virtually immune from liability[4]) and Florida leads the nation in uninsured drivers.

[5] As a result, a MBI statute that abolishes PIP may leave an injured motorist without any form of insurance, given the state of health insurance in the U.S.

These problems also shoehorn into economic realities those who lack health insurance also have: an injured party cannot find a doctor to treat them without some sort of insurance product or will be faced with mounting bills while waiting for resolution of their MBI case, unlike PIP, which should pay physicians within 30 days of submitting their billing.

Repealing PIP and replacing it with MBI coverage would not protect every Florida motorist injured when an at-fault party was not adequately insured or if an uninsured individual caused a crash.

While MBI coverage sounds good, it relies on others to purchase coverage that they may not be inclined to purchase, are unable to keep up with payments on or they just refuse to purchase.

If the goal is to make certain that individuals have some level of protection for their injuries following a crash, MBI does not ensure protection the way that PIP has done for forty years or mandatory uninsured motorist (UM) coverage would provide to the injured through their own policies.

Maintaining PIP and/or requiring mandatory UM coverage would address this concern and would keep Florida in the majority of states where PIP or UM is required.[6]

 

[1] Ivey v. Allstate Ins. Co., 774 So.2d 679 (Fla. 2000).

[2] http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=60053&SessionId=86

[3] https://www.visitflorida.org/media/39028/yearinreview2017.pdf

[4] See 49 U.S.C. § 30106 (2006) (the “Graves Amendment); Vargas v. Enterprise Leasing Co., 60 So.3d 1037 (Fla. 2011).

[5] https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists#Top 10 Highest And Lowest States By Estimated Percentage Of Uninsured Motorists, 2015 (1)

[6] https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists#Automobile Financial Responsibility Limits And Enforcement By State

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Author: Marc Semago
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