Will We Have Mandatory P.I.P. Insurance Next Year?

“To keep mandatory P.I.P. Insurance or not to keep mandatory P.I.P.?”

I know . . . for most people questions about “P.I.P. Insurance” (mandatory health/disability coverage that Florida drivers are obliged to purchase) may seem as ponderous as whether aerobic compost is better than traditional manure fertilizer. But the simple reality is that Floridians pay over $2 billion each year in P.I.P. premiums and this legislative session the proverbial compost may finally hit the fan as legislators ponder whether to get rid of P.I.P. and follow 40+ other states that use a “fault-based” system which leaves the injured party to pursue the at-fault driver instead of dealing with their own insurance.

So, why (besides an unending need to feed hungry lobbyists) is this issue back if we just completely revamped P.I.P. barely a year ago? The answer may be: a court in Tallahassee just declared much of the new P.I.P. law unconstitutional leaving legislators scrambling to decide whether to wait for the legal challenge to slither through the courts or just abandon P.I.P. Specifically, the Tallahassee judge found that the Governor’s new P.I.P. law fails to provide fair access to courts as it leaves many consumers with 75% less coverage (limits reduced from $10,000 to $2,500 if the condition is declared non-emergency), as well as less access to care (many practitioners, like massage therapists, are now excluded from coverage) while still restricting the consumer’s right to claim damages from the atfault party. The decision sent shock waves through Tallahassee and sparked a new debate about whether to just scrap the 40 yearold system in favor of a tort (fault-based) structure.

Considering that Floridians keep seeing their coverage evaporate while rates still fly through the roof, it’s no wonder we’re exploring drastic options: even it means waiting years for injury cases to settle before medical and lost wage expenses get paid. A vote on it may come soon. I guess we’ll all just have to put on our nose clips and dig our shovels into the compost when it does.

Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of several of Florida’s most widely distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law: West’s Florida Practice Series Volume 7 and West’s Florida Insurance Law & Practice. Mr. Lazega represents accident victims, insurance policyholders and condominium associations and is based in Dania Beach, Tallahassee, North Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Contact: www.Lazegalaw.com.

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