The ideas behind the development of legislation reforming or reorganizing Florida’s automobile insurance are well intended, but the net effect of repealing the state’s no-fault auto insurance system will likely increase litigation in our already clogged court system.
Florida already has one of the worst legal environments in the country—with rampant lawsuit abuse, excessive attorney fees and skyrocketing settlements plaguing the legal system in recent years.
Furthermore, Senate Bill 54 will fail to deliver savings for drivers and potentially increase auto insurance costs. Because of that, if the bill becomes law, we can probably expect to see more uninsured drivers on Florida roads. Our state already has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of uninsured motorists in the country, and we don’t need to do anything to add to that burden.
As we contemplate what makes good sense for consumers, we must always remember that often times when the legislature makes a regulatory change of the kind included in Senate Bill 54, those who are least able to afford rate increases are the ones who end up getting hurt the most. Think about grandmothers, single parents, college students who are working multiple jobs to try to make ends meet. Furthermore, with insurance rates on the rise, commercial carriers will be forced to pay more, and this will mean higher prices for grocery bills, school supplies, and basic healthcare services. This will compound the financial impact.
In Florida, we do not have an income tax, our property taxes are relatively low, and we tax consumption. Most would say that this is a dream come true. However, we sometimes forget the tort taxes and the consumer taxes that are imposed on people because we have too many lawsuits and high insurance rates. We don’t need to do anything to make it worse.
We urge the governor to veto SB 54 and keep our consumer protections intact until we can truly come up with a better system.
Katie Morris is the chairwoman of Citizens for Florida Prosperity.