New Poll Shows Majority of Floridians Think No-Fault Is Worth Keeping

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 6 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly 70 percent of Floridians say the state’s 37-year-old no-fault auto insurance system is worth keeping and an even larger majority – nearly 80 percent – wanted Governor Charlie Crist to include no-fault in the special session that was set to begin September 18, according to a new poll released today by the Coalition to Protect Florida’s Drivers. No-fault is slated to expire October 1.

The poll results come a day after Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio announced they were postponing the special session until sometime in the fall. Despite the unexpected set back, proponents of extending no-fault say they will continue urging legislative leaders to address mandatory auto insurance that protects both people and property prior to the October 1 sunset or in a future special session or during the regular 2008 Legislative Session.

“The future of auto insurance in Florida is now more uncertain than ever, but this poll shows clearly that Floridians overwhelmingly support the no- fault system, and they want Governor Crist to exert his leadership and force the Legislature to address this issue,” said Wayne NeSmith, President of the Florida Hospital Association. FHA and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance are leaders of the Coalition, which includes Florida’s largest health insurer, a major auto insurer, safety officials, emergency care providers, first responders, and medical professionals.

The telephone survey of 500 likely voters was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research on August 29. Pulse Opinion Research LLC is an independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percent

The poll found:*67 percent of those polled believe no-fault is a system worth keeping;*79 percent believe Governor Crist should have used his authority to forcethe Legislature to address no-fault in the September special session;*79 percent think it’s unfair to fully-insured drivers if some Floridamotorists are allowed to drive without any kind of personal injuryinsurance;*74 percent believe the number of lawsuits related to auto accidents inFlorida will increase if no-fault is allowed to sunset;*74 percent do not believe that auto insurers will pass savings from theexpiration of no-fault on to their customers, as some insurers,specifically State Farm, have promised, and*51 percent believe that if no-fault expires and coverage for personalinjury is voluntary, the number of Florida drivers who do not buypersonal injury insurance will increase.

Although the September special session has been delayed, the Coalition to Protect Florida’s Drivers is continuing to urge Governor Crist, Senate President Pruitt, and House Speaker Rubio to address no-fault in any special session scheduled later this fall. The Coalition wants the Legislature to either reform or extend the current system, or to replace it with alternative mandatory coverage that protects both people and property.

If no-fault expires October 1, Florida drivers will only be required to carry Property Damage coverage, although its enforcement will be severely weakened, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This will make Florida the only state that requires drivers to protect property, but not people. Today, 47 other states require drivers to carry minimum coverage for both medical protection and property damage. New Hampshire and Wisconsin are the only states that have no minimum auto insurance requirements.

“It makes absolutely no sense that Florida would require drivers to protect a car bumper but not a broken arm or leg,” said Tony Carvalho, President of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. “This poll provides a clear message to our state’s leaders about what the people want. We are urging Governor Crist and the Legislature to act, and to avoid creating a crisis in which Florida’s motorists are dangerously underinsured.”

A copy of the poll questions and results are listed below.Pulse Opinion ResearchFlorida Survey of 500 Likely VotersAugust 29, 2007

1. Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law is scheduled to expire October 1st.Some insurance companies, specifically State Farm, say they’ll pass savings from the expiration of no-fault on to their customers.Do you think insurance companies will pass savings on to consumers?

14% Yes74% No12% Not sure

2. If no-fault expires, a court will have to determine who’s at fault and pays damages. How do you think that will affect the number of lawsuits in Florida? Will they increase, decrease or remain the same?

74% Increase7% Decrease15% Remain the same5% Not sure

3. If no-fault expires, the coverage for personal injury will be completely voluntary. Do you think the number of Florida drivers who decide not to buy personal injury insurance will increase, decrease or remain the same?

51% Increase26% Decrease18% Remain the same6% Not sure

4. Do you think it’s fair to fully insured drivers to allow Florida motorists to drive without any kind of personal injury insurance?

10% Yes79% No11% Not sure5. Is no-fault insurance a system worth keeping?67% Yes14% No19% Not sure

6. Governor Crist has the authority to force the legislature to deal with no-fault before it expires. Do you think he should add it to the September special session?

79% Yes10% No11% Not sure

Florida Hospital Association; Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida

CONTACT: Rich Rasmussen, Vice President for Strategic Communications,+1-850-222-9800, rich@fha.org, of Florida Hospital Association; or TonyCarvalho, President of Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida,+1-850-201-2096, tony@fsthc.com