State lawmakers in Florida are getting ready to pass one of the biggest overhauls of insurance regulations there since 1972, but the proposed rule changes are making some drivers more than a little nervous. If the current bill passes, then motorists will have to carry at least $60,000 in property damage and injury policies by January 2022 regardless of the size of vehicle that they’re driving.
Judging by documents attributed to state senators Darryl Rouson and Danny Burgess, this would include $25,000 for injuries or deaths involving a single individual in a collision as well as an additional $50,000 for two individuals. On top of this, motorists would have to carry another $10,000 for damage or destruction of any property in a single accident. That’s considerably more than Florida residents are used to, considering that the state is currently classed as a no-fault region.
Proponents of the bill say, however, that they’re simply following a national trend toward ensuring that a greater number of people are insured at all times.
Debating the Current Situation in the State of Florida
According to the Umansky Law Firm in Orlando, Florida’s current regulations require motorists to have a personal injury policy that covers around 80 percent of medical costs and 60 percent of lost wages no matter who was at fault for an accident. Lost wages recovered by a policy can be upwards of $10,000, though they’re usually much less. Injured motorists sometimes even have a difficult time proving that they had lost that much over time, which makes it hard for them to recover this much money.
Proponents of the new rules have opined that they might help to dramatically reduce the risk of someone finding themselves in this kind of situation. Unlike an overwhelming majority of states, Florida’s laws don’t require drivers to carry liability coverage that automatically activates if they harm another individual during the course of an accident. New regulations would force drivers and insurance providers to rectify this situation.
Since uninsured drivers have dramatically boosted the cost of insurance for individuals who adhere to Florida’s existing rules, it’s become difficult to keep insurance premiums affordable for law-abiding citizens. Applying for car insurance without putting money down has become nearly impossible for many drivers. There are those who feel that legislative changes like these may help car owners who find themselves in this sort of situation.
Industry analysts have suggested that these new laws might cause prices to rise, however.
The Possibility of Increased Premiums for Drivers
Pundits who have been more cautious about the issue have pointed to Colorado, which transitioned away from no-fault insurance policies back in 2003. Insurance premiums dropped dramatically at first, but they started to go through the roof in short order. Dealing with a claims settlement also became considerably more difficult for some drivers, though the results were hardly consistent and aren’t all that easy to track.
Opinion pieces published in the Orlando Sentinel found that around one-fifth of vehicles in Florida lack insurance. This is probably the highest rate in the entire country, and there are those who feel that those numbers will get worse if these bills pass.
Economists are concerned that lawmakers are ignoring market-based solutions, which already allow people to buy as much injury and medical coverage as they’d prefer to have. On top of this, Floridians who have health insurance may now be required to purchase more in order to satisfy medical payments coverage guidelines set forth in the new rules.
It’s currently unclear if Gov. Ron DeSantis would sign the bill anyway, but that’s not stopping concerned individuals from raising additional talking points. There’s an ongoing debate over whether people might use a virtual address to skirt filing requirements, much as they’re currently doing to escape certain types of taxes.
Motorists May Find Ways Around New Rules
Those who hold the position that the Sentinel’s column espoused have pointed out that many motorists may look at increased premiums and simply avoid the entire issue of filing for insurance, which is perhaps more dangerous than the current situation.
Certain individuals have gone so far as to suggest that those in select industries would benefit from a repeal of the existing laws, which has kept the debate going. One outlet raised concerns about driverless vehicles, like have been discussed in the United Kingdom.
Florida’s current automotive laws might some day be amended to respond to the challenges of new technology, which makes further legislation all but an eventuality. Regardless of whether or not this repeal does pass, however, it’s obvious that the biggest impacts will be felt by individual motorists, including those who find it difficult to pay for certain types of coverage. That’s likely to continue to frame the debate for many years to come.
Interesting related article: “What is Risk?“