If Fla. No-Fault Expires, State Farm’s Rates Could Drop 16%

June 1, 2007

State Farm will be able to cut its car insurance rates by about 16 percent on average if lawmakers do not continue the state’s no-fault accident system, state insurance regulators ruled this week.

The Office of Insurance Regulation granted State Farm’s request to lower rates by an average of about $360 a year for two-car households, although the reduction amount would vary widely depending on coverages, discounts, geography and driver and car details.

The proposed rate decrease by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, Florida’s largest auto insurer, is contingent, however, on the no-fault system ending in October as it is scheduled to do.

The no-fault system requires drivers to get $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage, but puts restrictions on people’s right to sue if they are hit in an accident and injured. The system will sunset in October — although there has been talk by some legislators and Gov. Charlie Crist that lawmakers could vote to retain it when they return to the Capitol in June to work on property tax legislation.

If the no fault system, called PIP for personal injury protection, does sunset, drivers who cause accidents would be responsible for paying for the injury damages of those they hit and those who are injured would be able to sue to get that money.

State Farm and some other insurers say the PIP system has been plagued with fraud and abuse, and supported lawmakers’ decision during the legislative session not to continue it.

“With the state’s blessing, our customers are now on track to see immediate and real auto insurance savings once no-fault ends,” Janet Fernandez, a State Farm agent in Pembroke Pines, said in a statement released by the insurer. “State Farm’s Florida customers will now have both lower rates and more choice when selecting the coverage that is best for them and their families.”

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