TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 6 Nearly 70 percent of Floridianssay the state's 37-year-old no-fault auto insurance system is worth keepingand an even larger majority - nearly 80 percent - wanted Governor CharlieCrist to include no-fault in the special session that was set to beginSeptember 18, according to a new poll released today by the Coalition toProtect Florida's Drivers. No-fault is slated to expire October 1.
The poll results come a day after Senate President Ken Pruitt and HouseSpeaker Marco Rubio announced they were postponing the special session untilsometime in the fall. Despite the unexpected set back, proponents of extendingno-fault say they will continue urging legislative leaders to addressmandatory auto insurance that protects both people and property prior to theOctober 1 sunset or in a future special session or during the regular 2008Legislative Session.
"The future of auto insurance in Florida is now more uncertain than ever,but this poll shows clearly that Floridians overwhelmingly support the no-fault system, and they want Governor Crist to exert his leadership and forcethe Legislature to address this issue," said Wayne NeSmith, President of theFlorida Hospital Association. FHA and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance areleaders of the Coalition, which includes Florida's largest health insurer, amajor auto insurer, safety officials, emergency care providers, firstresponders, and medical professionals.
The telephone survey of 500 likely voters was conducted by Pulse OpinionResearch on August 29. Pulse Opinion Research LLC is an independent publicopinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedureslicensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percent
Although the September special session has been delayed, the Coalition toProtect Florida's Drivers is continuing to urge Governor Crist, SenatePresident Pruitt, and House Speaker Rubio to address no-fault in any specialsession scheduled later this fall. The Coalition wants the Legislature toeither reform or extend the current system, or to replace it with alternativemandatory coverage that protects both people and property.
If no-fault expires October 1, Florida drivers will only be required tocarry Property Damage coverage, although its enforcement will be severelyweakened, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and MotorVehicles. This will make Florida the only state that requires drivers toprotect property, but not people. Today, 47 other states require drivers tocarry minimum coverage for both medical protection and property damage.New Hampshire and Wisconsin are the only states that have no minimum autoinsurance requirements.
"It makes absolutely no sense that Florida would require drivers toprotect a car bumper but not a broken arm or leg," said Tony Carvalho,President of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. "This poll providesa clear message to our state's leaders about what the people want. We areurging Governor Crist and the Legislature to act, and to avoid creating acrisis in which Florida's motorists are dangerously underinsured."
1. Florida's no-fault auto insurance law is scheduled to expire October1st. Some insurance companies, specifically State Farm, say they'll passsavings from the expiration of no-fault on to their customers. Do you thinkinsurance companies will pass savings on to consumers?
2. If no-fault expires, a court will have to determine who's at fault andpays damages. How do you think that will affect the number of lawsuits inFlorida? Will they increase, decrease or remain the same?
3. If no-fault expires, the coverage for personal injury will becompletely voluntary. Do you think the number of Florida drivers who decidenot to buy personal injury insurance will increase, decrease or remain thesame?
4. Do you think it's fa