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PIP/No-Fault Replacement Discussed in Senate Committee
By The FCA   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013

By Kim Driggers, FCA Assistant General Counsel and Jack Hebert, FCA Government Relations Director 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013, Tallahassee – State lawmakers, back in Tallahassee this week for another round of committee meetings preparing for next spring’s legislative session, took time yesterday to once again discuss the future of Florida’s No-fault automobile insurance system.

On Tuesday, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee met to hear some of the major stakeholders’ position on dumping Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) as a mandatory coverage in the State of Florida, replacing it with Mandatory Bodily Injury (“BI”) coverage, to join the 48 other States in the U.S. that have mandatory BI in place.  

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, who chairs the committee, unveiled a 75-page draft bill for mandatory bodily injury and a draft Amendment for mandatory medical payments coverage for emergency services and care.  This was not the Senator’s first time advocating the replacement of no-fault as he filed similar mandatory BI bills in each of the last two sessions. 

Simmons’ latest idea proposes to repeal PIP as of January 1, 2015 and puts in its place a requirement that motorists carry mandatory bodily injury coverage with limits of $25,000 per person injured and $50,000 per accident (total coverage for all injured persons).  In addition, the proposal puts in place a mandatory medical emergency payment coverage of $10,000 to cover emergency transport and emergency services.

The Committee heard testimony from various stakeholders.  Of those stakeholders, Gerald Wester, counsel for the American Insurance Association, along with the Florida Justice Association, both expressed their support in repealing PIP, replacing it with a system of mandatory BI.  Similarly, representatives of Blue Cross-Blue Shield and the Florida Hospital Association took a less positional statement recommending that a system with a mandatory medical payments coverage be included, but only as reimbursement for hospital and emergency room services.

Michael Carlson, executive director for the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF) which represents a majority of the auto insurers in the State of Florida, along with the licensed massage therapists and Donovan Brown, counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers (PCI) testified urging to keep the PIP system in place and to let it play out longer to see the effects of the 2012 changes now that the courts have overturned the injunction.

Paul Lambert, FCA General Counsel, also testified, presenting the position recently adopted by your FCA Board of Directors.  Lambert stated that it is our members’ preference to keep PIP in place and to correct the current  discriminations in the PIP law. He continued that the FCA would like the opportunity to work with the committee on a mandatory BI system only if a medical payments coverage was added to include all physician specialties along with a system to help protect doctors from non-payment or underpayment of letters of protection upon settlement of BI claims.

The committee took no formal action on the proposal and there was no time left for questions from its members.  The House is not scheduled to discuss the issue during this set of meetings, however, yesterday a bill (HB 267) similar to the Simmons’ draft proposal was pre-filed in the House by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami.