Florida legislators don’t return to Tallahassee until March, but they’ll listen to drivers now about what needs to be done to make auto insurance more affordable. Tell your representative and senator that you want Personal Injury Protection (PIP) reform.
PIP costs are skyrocketing. Claims payouts jumped to roughly $2.3 billion in 2010 from $1.5 billion in 2006 even though the number of licensed drivers changed little and the number of crashes has went down. Florida drivers pay some of the highest injury-related premiums because of widespread claims abuse and questionable accidents.
Robin Westcott, the state’s new insurance consumer advocate, will have PIP legislation ready by December. She is an insurance expert, having served as the director and assistant director of property and casualty financial oversight within the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. She monitored companies for solvency and compliance with Florida’s financial requirements for property and casualty insurance companies.
Her recommendations on auto insurance reform will be based on input from state senators, representatives and others. Gov. Rick Scott, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater have all voiced support for new PIP legislation.
Several bills introduced in the 2011 session would have capped attorneys’ fees and tightened rules for filing claims. Lobbyists for lawyers, doctors, chiropractors and others who stood to lose money under the proposed laws persuaded the legislature to either vote down or not consider the measures.
Those special interests have to be defeated in 2012. Florida’s five largest automobile insurers have raised PIP premiums 35 percent to 72 percent in recent years.
One insurer reported that a typical annual PIP premium for a married 40-year-old woman in Miami increased nearly 80 percent from $450 in 2005 to over $800 in 2011, according to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
In today’s economy, with gas prices still a dollar a gallon above 2010 levels, how much more can drivers afford? Insurance companies can absorb only so much of the increase of the cost of paying PIP and other accident-related claims. Commissioner Atwater has said that if drivers’ premiums don’t go up to cover those expenses, some insurers might stop doing business in Florida.
PIP insurance has gotten out of hand, and drivers have a chance to do something about it. Tell your legislator you demand PIP reform.