An Op-ed on No-fault…

A while back I posted something  intended to emphasize the futility of reforming no-fault and begging instead for its repeal.   Many seemed to agree when I said reform was “All About Wasted Time.”   

I received a phone call, and more than one comment indicating the piece should be converted (shortened mostly) to run opposite the editorial page (op-ed) of Florida’s daily newspapers.  I made the conversion late December 2013 and took several weeks to circulate it.  Alas, there were no takers.  Until this morning.

Since it’s apparent that only the Tallahassee Democrat would publish, I thought it appropriate to share the rewrite with you in case you want to share it with others, perhaps even your hometown paper.

If you’ve already read the post from which the following op-ed was adapted, please overlook the redundancies and feel free to send to anyone still waiting for the 2012 no-fault reforms to have an impact on their auto premiums.   

If you’d like to forward without this introduction you can go to the library tab above and send them the link to a PDF identical to the following.


Scott Johnson: Why won’t we give up on no-fault?

Hearing that lawmakers have backed away from outright repeal of auto no-fault in favor of giving the 2012 reforms another chance to  reduce premiums is like déjà vu all over again.

I remember 1971, “working” the halls of Florida’s old capital building. A wet-behind-the-ears insurance lobbyist, handing out flyers on why we should implement one of America’s first no-fault systems.

Insurance Commissioner Tom O’Malley had just won election campaigning for the concept. The Governor supported it as did leaders in both legislative chambers.

Despite a real fight from trial lawyers, HB-182 promised to speed claim payments for accident related medical care and keep small lawsuits from bogging down the court system. Governor Rueben Askew signed into law what was touted as “..the most far-reaching, meaningful, no-fault reform in the country.”

But, both the celebration and the 15% across-the-board rate reduction were astoundingly short-lived.

In 1973 I was handing out more flyers and doing so again to reform those reforms in 1976 and in 1977. Always it was to address problems when special interests turned injuries to accident victims into their own gravy trains. And, always accompanied by the political plea…”give the previous reforms a chance to work.”

In 1978 only the venue shifted. It was Florida’s spanking new capital building–my newest volume of flyers urged the shoring of the lawsuit threshold enacted as part of the 1976 PIP reforms.

In the ’80’s more shoring. And from 1989 to 1997 even more. Eventually no-faults’ deterioration was so complete that even the trial bar was fighting to keep it around.

So were the numerous cottage industries feeding off staged accidents and faked injuries. This lead to the anti-fraud provisions implemented with HB-3889.

In 1999 HB-295 modified PIP again and was accompanied by major lawsuit reform in HB-775, much of which also targeted PIP’s skyrocketing fraud.

Each time lawmakers implemented reforms it was amidst plea’s to “…give the previous reforms a chance to work!”

By the turn of the century organized crime, staged accidents, fake health clinics, crooked doctors and lawyers, money laundering and more, intersected in a shocking grand jury report and another major rewrite back dropped with… “give the previous reforms a chance to work!”

In a 2003 Special Session even more major PIP reform was implemented and, believe it or not, I was involved writing even more flyers–some painfully similar to those I handed out as a rookie three decades prior.

Fast forward. It’s 2012. Lawmakers back away from “real” reform, enacting another watered down step child undergoing legal challenges eerily similar to those of the past forty years.

So please forgive me, but…when I hear policymakers say they want to give the 2012 reforms yielding a paltry 3.4% savings a chance to work, I can only say…”ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!”

I get it…we don’t want to replace a horrible system of mandatory PIP with an equally horrible system of mandatory something else. But, desires don’t erase facts!

And the facts prove two things: 1) no-fault doesn’t work, and; 2) it cannot be made to work on any sustained and material basis.


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  1. herbie wiles says:

    Good article, thanks for hanging in there. Nobody’s listening except the Lawyers who love it.

  2. Thanks Herbie. It’s for sure the politicians aren’t listening.:)

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