TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers are on the road to potentially passing legislation that would cement one of the largest overhauls of the state's auto insurance laws since 1972.
SB54, co-introduced by Republican Sen. Danny Burgess and Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson who both represent the Tampa Bay area, looks to expand the insurance coverage you're required to carry in Florida.
Currently, Florida is considered a "no-fault" state and only mandates that drivers must show proof of personal injury protection and property damage liability.
But if the bill gets the green light, come January 2022, the no-fault law would be repealed and anyone behind the wheel of a car will need to start showing proof of "garage liability insurance."
So what does that mean? According to the bill's text, you'll need to carry combined single-limit liability coverage that consists of at least $60,000 in property damage and bodily injury insurance.
Here is a breakdown of what the looks like:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to, or the death of, one person in any one crash.
- $50,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, two or more persons in any one crash.
- $10,000 for damage to, or destruction of property of others in any one crash.
If the above requirements are not presented at the time you go to register your car, the bill would require the agent you are working with to not issue your registration.
The current version, which was amended earlier this month, passed the House with 99 yeas and one nay. It now moves to the Senate for one final vote.
“Florida is one of only two states in the country that does not currently require drivers to carry liability coverage that would immediately kick in if they cause harm to another person while operating a motor vehicle,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby).
“For everyone’s protection, drivers must be insured at sufficient levels. PIP coverage levels are clearly insufficient. It’s the right time for Florida to move to mandatory coverage for bodily injury liability," he added.
Sen. Burgess says he believes that the legislation will help transform Florida's "outdated" insurance system and provide relief from the number of uninsured drivers on the road.
“The goal of this legislation is to lower the number of uninsured and underinsured drivers and provide a greater safety net in the event of an accident. Replacing our current no-fault system with a bodily injury liability system more appropriately places liability where it should be – with the party that caused the accident,” Burgess said.
And according to the Insurance Research Council's calculations, he's right.
In a recent report, the council determined that one in eight drivers on the road are driving without insurance. Out of our nation's 50 states, Florida was ranked the 6th worst state for people driving unprotected at 20.4- percent.
The report's data was based on the latest accessible information from 2019.
"Uninsured drivers increase the cost of insurance for those who comply with their state’s insurance requirements and that’s not fair,” David Corum, vice president of the IRC, said. “Keeping auto insurance affordable is more difficult when a significant number of drivers refuse to carry their fair share of the costs.”
SB54 would also require each policyholder to include medical payment coverage benefits at a limit between $5,000-$10,000 depending on if a deductible is included.
While there are champions of the legislation, others are looking to Colorado as a warning sign for what also could become a rapid increase in insurance premiums.
According to Florida Politics, Colorado abandoned its "no-fault" system in 2003 and at first saw premiums go down, but the outlet says it wasn't long before premiums began to soar.
The backfiring of the state's overhaul led it to be ranked 9th in the nation for car insurance rates in 2021, according to zebra.com. The auto insurance comparison website says its data is based on insight into 83 million rates.
Florida currently sits in the second slot for the highest annual rates at $2,324 which the website states is $841 more than the estimated average cost of car insurance in the U.S.
Should the bill make it to Gov. Ron DeSantis desk and be signed, Floridians would have roughly eight months to get their insurance coverage up to speed.
You can read the 124-page bill in full detail here.
What other people are reading right now:
- CDC relaxes guidelines for wearing masks outdoors
- Turnout low as Johnson & Johnson vaccine returns in Florida
- Biden to sign $15 minimum wage for federal contract workers
- Investigation: Derek Chauvin held a teenager down prone for 17 minutes
- Former Bucs, FSU linebacker Geno Hayes dies at 33
- Pandemic creates a plethora of mental health jobs
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter