INDIANAPOLIS (May 31, 2006)—An official of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) today called Florida Gov. Jeb Bush a “courageous leader” after he vetoed the bill that would have extended the sunset of the state’s no-fault insurance law for another two years.
“In vetoing Senate Bill 2114, Gov. Bush has shown us that a courageous leader isn’t afraid to back away from making a tough decision,” said NAMIC Senior State Affairs Manager David Reddick.
The Governor’s announcement ends three weeks of speculation on how he would react to Senate Bill 2114, which was enacted a week before the Legislature adjourned on May 5. NAMIC sent a letter to the Governor on May 18 asking him to veto the bill.
As enacted, Senate Bill 2114 extended the sunset provision to January 1, 2009, appropriated $1 million to fight insurance fraud and simplified the crash reports. The bill passed the Senate 38 to 0 and the House on a 118 to 1 vote, the lone opponent being Rep. Don Brown (R- DeFuniak Springs).
From the outset, Reddick said NAMIC opposed any attempts to try to amend the current no-fault statute, which calls for a sunset in October 2007.
NAMIC joined Floridians for Lower Insurance Costs, a Tallahassee-based coalition of concerned citizens, businesses and taxpayers that has formed to address the growing waste, fraud and abuse resulting from Florida's broken no-fault auto insurance system.
“It became pretty clear to us and to our members early in the legislative process that amendments being offered by other stakeholders would not bring about true reform of the current no-fault system,” Reddick said. “Our members hoped lawmakers would come to the realization that after 35 years, the current system was broken and couldn’t be fixed, but the legislation that was sent to the governor didn’t solve the problem.”
Reddick said one reason why lawmakers finally agreed to extend the no-fault sunset two years was because they became sidetracked with amendments to Senate Bill 1980, the comprehensive property insurance bill to bail out Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state’s insurer of last resort.
“There’s no question lawmakers faced a challenging task with Senate Bill 1980, and that they produced a pretty good bill, but the problems with the no-fault system deserved that same kind of attention,” Reddick said.
Reddick said the next challenge for insurers will be getting policyholders ready to move to a tort-based system of auto insurance. Under the current law, renewal notices describing how the new system will work will begin being sent out this October.
“Educating a generation and a half of drivers who have lived under the current no-fault system will be a challenge, but one that our members will be looking forward to,” Reddick said.
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Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:11:30 AM.
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