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Prepare for Life Without No-Fault Insurance, CFO Sink Warns

Aug 12, 2007

By Linda Kleindienst, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Aug. 13--TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's chief financial officer wants car 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 keep it going.

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

If the no-fault law expires, so will the requirement for every car owner to purchase Personal Injury Protection coverage, which 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 re-enact the law. "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 by going to MyFloridaCFO.com and clicking on "Life Without No-Fault," a special site set up by Sink's office to answer the most commonly asked questions.

Florida legislators are scheduled to meet in an emergency budget-cutting session on 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," said Gov. Charlie Crist, who supports continuation of the no-fault law.

Auto insurers have pushed to end the current system, saying it is rife with fraud and promising rate reductions should it expire in October.

Linda Kleindienst can be reached at lkleindienst@sun-sentinel.com or 850-224-6214.

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Copyright (c) 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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