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CFO: Get Proper Car Coverage: Florida Drivers Must Prepare for Losing No-Fault Insurance

Aug 13, 2007

By Linda Kleindienst, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Aug. 14--TALLAHASSEE Florida's chief financial officer wants automobile owners to begin preparing for life without no-fault insurance.

Unless re-enacted by the state Legislature, Florida's no-fault law will expire on Oct. 1. And legislative leaders have voiced doubts they can reach an agreement before then on how to extend it.

In that event, Alex Sink, the state's CFO, on Monday urged drivers to make sure they have enough insurance to cover their family in the event of an accident.

Legislators are scheduled to meet in an emergency budget-cutting session Sept. 18, but so far the House and Senate have failed to reach any agreement on continuing the no-fault law, leaving doubts it will be addressed during the three-week special session.

"I don't know if I'm terribly optimistic, but it still can happen," Gov. Charlie Crist, who supports continuation of the law, said Monday.

Auto insurers have pushed to park the no-fault law, saying the system is rife with fraud and promising price reductions on policies should the law expire in October.

If the no-fault law expires, the requirement for every auto owner statewide to purchase personal-injury protection coverage will, too. This coverage now pays the first $10,000 of the driver's and passengers' medical costs regardless of fault.

One of the biggest changes for consumers will be that payment for accident-related injuries will become the financial responsibility of the at-fault driver.

"The best advice we can give to consumers is to purchase enough auto insurance coverage to provide proper medical treatment for themselves and families," said Sink, who has urged legislators to keep the law going. "In the event someone is at fault in an accident after the expiration of no-fault, sufficient auto insurance coverage can help protect that family's financial assets."

With almost a fifth of all Floridians lacking group health insurance, Sink warned legislators earlier this summer that the cost of medical treatment for those injured in accidents could shift to hospitals and doctors.

Consumers can learn more online at MyFloridaCFO.com by clicking on "Life Without No-Fault," a Web site set up by Sink's office to answer the most commonly asked questions.

Linda Kleindienst can be reached at lkleindienst

@sun-

sentinel

.com or 850-224-6214.

No-Fault coverAGE Florida now pays the following benefits up to $10,000:

80 percent of reasonable and medically necessary medical expenses

60 percent of disability benefits for lost gross income and earning capacity

100 percent of replacement services (such as child care, housekeeping, etc.)

$5,000 per individual death benefit.

Coverage ends Oct.1.

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To see more of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sun-sentinel.com/.

Copyright (c) 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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