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Car insurance rates skyrocket in Florida as crashes mount on busy roads
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TALLAHASSEE Floridians are driving more and getting into a lot more accidents, and they’re paying the price with rising car insurance rates that are already among the nation’s highest.
Premiums have risen 14 percent statewide since Jan. 1 of last year nearly the exact opposite of the ubiquitous TV commercials offering savings of 15 percent or more on car insurance.
“People are driving more,” said former state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, “and accidents have increased commensurate with that number.”
On McCarty’s watch, which ended May 2, the Office of Insurance Regulation approved dozens of rate increases in the past year and a half. The average for the 25 companies that write most car coverage in Florida is a 13.8 percent increase.
“They constantly raise my rates,” said Donna Dugan, 67, of St. Petersburg, a claims-free customer of State Farm for 35 years whose policy just went up by $120 a year.
“That’s a lot of money, especially when you are on Social Security that did not get a raise this year,” she told Gov. Rick Scott in an email. “When is anyone going to help the consumer or care about them?”
Scott regularly touts Florida’s “low cost of living” when talking about population growth or higher education, but the car insurance numbers tell a different story.
Since 1972, Florida has required all drivers to carry $10,000 of personal injury protection, or PIP, to cover minor accident claims, regardless of who was at fault.
Known as no-fault insurance, it was an attempt to clear the courts of accident-related lawsuits and get payments to victims faster.
Four years ago, Scott and the Legislature retooled the law to attack rampant PIP fraud, especially in Tampa and Miami, that was blamed for increasing premiums.
But after rates fell in the first two years after the bill’s passage, PIP premiums have risen by nearly 15 percent since Jan. 1 of last year. One major carrier, Allstate Fire float: reght; margin: 5px;”>