Two legislative committees on Thursday approved bills that would have Florida join 48 other states that require drivers to carry bodily injury insurance.
The proposals, SB 1766 by Sen. Tom Lee and CS/HB 1063 by Rep. Erin Grall, would repeal Florida’s failed no-fault PIP auto insurance system and move to a system where drivers are responsible if they cause damage.
Under the phased-in approach proposed by Sen. Lee, drivers would have to carry $20,000 per person/$40,000 per incident in bodily injury liability insurance and $10,000 in property damage coverage. After two years, the bodily injury coverage requirement would go to $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident. Two years after that, the limits would go to $30,000 per person/$60,000 per incident. Sen. Lee also proposes drivers carry $5,000 in medical payment coverage.
“(We’re) trying not to create rate shock in the marketplace as we transition to a new system,” Sen. Lee told the members of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee as he explained the reasoning behind the phase-in approach. “This Legislature would have the ability to review, after the first two years, just how rates are being implemented.”
The Senate Committee passed the bill on a vote of 8-to-1. It now goes to the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.
The bill Rep. Grall presented to the House Commerce Committee replaces PIP with a requirement that drivers carry $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident in bodily injury coverage.
“Too often it feels as if we live in a society where the norm has become to blame someone else for our problems. That’s what the no-fault system represents to me. That we’re not taking responsibility,” Rep. Grall said. “We have a real opportunity to have a shift in paradigm where we say personal responsibility is important in Florida, and so is a meaningful amount of coverage to handle the losses that the severity of accidents in this state have resulted in.”
Adrienne Gorham from Edgewater testified in both committees on behalf of Floridians for Responsible Roadways. She was involved in an accident with a driver who only carried PIP. She encouraged lawmakers to promote personal responsibility.
“My family has suffered because someone else acted irresponsibly,” Gorham said. “We’re proof that irresponsible drivers can hurt other people when they’re behind the wheel. When this happens, they should have at least enough coverage to help fix the lives they’ve completely broken.”
The House Commerce Committee passed the bill on a vote of 22-to-5. The proposal is now ready for consideration on the House floor.
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