Early Session Promises Fast Start to Year
The holidays are only recently behind us as this year’s legislative session gets underway. Insurance-related issues might not be as prominent from a statewide perspective as in some prior years— some pre-session lists didn’t include insurance topics among the top five or ten issues to be addressed. Nonetheless, for members of the industry, the session will bring the usual anticipation and uncertainty.
From a property and casualty perspective, the “assignment of benefits” issue again will be one of the primary topics. Despite substantial debate in prior sessions, no law changes have been enacted. As a result, increased losses continue to affect insurers’ rate and are producing rate increases, especially in areas that are most affected. Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has advised prior legislative committees that on average, rates are likely to rise ten percent annually as they adjust the current loss levels in the market.
The legislature also continues to explore options for replacing Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system. The current Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws have been riddled with fraud an abuse. Some legislators favor abandoning the PIP system in favor of bodily injury liability coverage, with or without medical payments coverage. This has proven to be a challenging issue as the legislature wrestles with whether law changes will help solve problems or simply will shift the problems elsewhere.
As usual, given the weight of the insurance-related issues to be discussed, we might not know the outcome of these proposals until the final days of the session.