Florida lawmakers move closer to revising auto insurance policies, despite warnings


TALLAHASSEE — Representatives from State Farm, Geico, Progressive and several insurance trade organizations have spoken out against a sweeping overhaul of Florida auto insurance laws proposed by state lawmakers this session.

Insurance companies warned state lawmakers on Monday that up to 45% of Florida motorists could see their rates rise if lawmakers choose to scrap the state’s 50-year-old “no-fault” laws and to increase the minimum amount of insurance that motorists would be. forced to wear.

“There will be a significant rate increase for 35 to 45 percent of Floridians,” Doug Bell, a Progressive lobbyist, told lawmakers.

Those rates would increase primarily for poorer Floridians, they said, while rates for people who already carry more than lawmakers are proposing could see some rates drop.

Fed up with Florida’s exorbitant auto insurance rates, which consistently rank among the top five in the nation, lawmakers are set to pass the most significant changes to the state’s insurance laws since decades.

The bill would remove Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance laws, which require Floridians to purchase $10,000 in coverage for their own medical, disability and funeral expenses, known as coverage. of “protection against injury”.

This coverage pays regardless of who is at fault in an accident – ​​the reason Florida is a “no-fault” state. (Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that fault is not assigned in an accident.)

Lawmakers are proposing to scrap “no-fault” statuses and $10,000 coverage.

Instead, they would require everyone, when registering a vehicle, to have a minimum of $25,000 for one person’s injury or death and $50,000 for two people. Florida is one of only two states that does not require bodily injury coverage. The $10,000 property damage coverage currently required would not change.

Proponents believe rates would drop by requiring greater coverage on Florida roads – and eliminating “bodily injury protection,” which they say is riddled with fraud. The bill would also shift liability in the event of an accident to the insurance policy of the person responsible for the accident.

However, no one knows for sure what the proposal would do to tariffs. Since the current version of the bill was introduced last week, the state has not conducted any independent analysis showing what its impact would be.

Opponents warn this could exacerbate one of the reasons Florida’s rates are so high: An estimated one in five motorists are uninsured – one of the highest rates in the country.

This number could increase if the bill is passed. Anyone who currently has the minimum insurance would likely pay more, simply because they would be required to carry more insurance.

Bell said after the meeting that 45% of Progressive customers in Florida are carrying less than would be needed if the bill passes, and those people are likely to drop coverage altogether. He said insurers want lower rates because it attracts more customers.

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“We want to sell coverage at a lower cost because it means more people are buying insurance,”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, derided the insurance companies’ warnings, calling them “scare tactics” and “dishonest.”

“The research just doesn’t confirm that we’re going to see increases,” Grall said afterwards.

Lawmakers expressed frustration that the state had no clear idea of ​​what the bill would do.

“We just have to have the data,” said Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota. “We just have to have it.”

Bill is now heading up the House floor and appears to be headed for Governor Ron DeSantis’ office.

Last week, the Senate quickly passed its own version of the bill Wednesday night, just a day after it was introduced, the result, senators say, of hours of negotiations between trial attorneys, insurance companies and hospitals.

After the Senate passed his bill, the House fast-tracked its own, bypassing a committee so the bill could get to the House floor more quickly. The House also amended its bill on Monday, making it nearly identical to the Senate version. Both houses must pass the same bill before it reaches Governor Ron DeSantis’ office.

The bill’s unusual course this session is “very concerning,” said Logan McFaddin, assistant vice president of state government relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, an industry trade group.

“How can Floridians trust the process when it’s not being followed?” McFaddin said in a statement.

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