Last Update: 02/01/16
Most states in the United States do not have mandatory “PIP” coverage requirements — but Florida is one of a handful of states with laws that require Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) auto insurance policies for its drivers.
What is PIP coverage?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is defined by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles as follows:
Also called Florida No Fault Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance covers you – regardless of fault (i.e. whether or not you cause the crash) – up to the limits of your policy. Your PIP will also cover your child, members of your household, certain passengers who lack PIP Insurance as long as they do not own a vehicle. People riding in your vehicle who carry PIP will receive coverage under their own PIP for their injuries, and certain licensed drivers who drive your vehicle with your permission. PIP also covers your child if he or she suffers an injury while riding on a school bus. PIP coverage protects you while in someone else’s vehicle, as a pedestrian, or bicyclist if you suffer an injury in a crash involving a motor vehicle. The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, requires all owner/registrants of a motor vehicle with four wheels or more to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) if you own a motor vehicle in Florida. Florida law requires you to maintain PIP/PDL insurance continuously throughout the licensing and registration period.
Why have PIP coverage?
Florida drivers have PIP coverage because it’s the law that they have this insurance. Why? The theory behind the Florida Legislature passing laws mandating that Floridians must purchase PIP insurance policies was that PIP policies would provide a faster, simpler way to get medical coverage after an auto accident or car crash: you would file a PIP claim instead of filing a lawsuit.
It’s No Fault Insurance: if there is a crash or accident with your vehicle, there’s no issue of fault to be decided in a lawsuit (were you at fault? Was the other driver the one who caused the accident?). Instead, with PIP coverage, each person is responsible under Florida law for their own injuries.
However, lots of people are re-thinking PIP insurance coverage these days, since the number of PIP claims filed in Florida (and the amount of PIP payments made under Florida PIP insurance policies) has gone through the roof. Many are due to insurance scams according to studies by criminals who are committing insurance fraud via “staged crashes.” In fact, in 2012, over half of the investigations undertaken by the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud involved PIP fraud.
PIP Reform – Past and Future
Last year, the Florida Legislature passed a new law (HB 119) that reformed Florida No Fault Insurance in response to the large amount of fraudulent PIP insurance claims being filed across the state.
After the PIP reforms were passed, Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled that the 2012 PIP reform laws were unconstitutional and he issued an injunction against this new PIP law being enforced. His ruling is now before the 1st District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida (oral arguments were a few weeks ago), and that court’s ruling will probably go up to the Florida Supreme Court for its ultimate determination on the constitutionality of the 2012 PIP reforms.
This year, there is talk that the Florida Legislature will soon debate whether or not to abandon No Fault Insurance altogether and instead follow the pattern set by the majority of states who do not have PIP Insurance Coverage requirements.
State Senator David Simmons, chairman of the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, is in the process of drafting a proposed law that will end mandatory Florida PIP coverage. Simmons’ alternative? Florida would require drivers to have “bodily injury liability” coverage for the other party in a crash (which most Florida drivers already have in their automobile insurance coverage). With this coverage, the other party in the crash would have to file a accident lawsuit alleging damages and injuries in the car crash to get expenses and costs covered by the policy.
How much BIL coverage would Floridians have to buy? It’s not known what the bottom line would ultimately be, but it’s reasonable to think that the new law would require coverage around $10,000 per person, capped at $20,000 per accident.
To follow the PIP appeal before the Florida 1DCA, check out the online docket of the case here.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident and have a question about your PIP benefits, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
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- Can Your Florida Insurance Company Demand Examination Under Oath for PIP Benefits After a Florida Car Crash? Yes and No for Florida Auto Accident Claims, Here’s Why.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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