Tag Archives: Insurance Policies

Uber and Lyft Oppose Florida Push for Increased Insurance Coverage

Florida Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is pushing for stronger insurance requirements for transportation network companies that connect drivers with passengers through smartphone apps. According to a recent article in the Herald-Tribune, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee supported the measure (SB 1298), despite opposition from Uber and Lyft—the two leaders in the burgeoning app-connected industry of for-hire drivers.

The proposed legislation would create the following distinctive coverage requirements:

  1. the “on call” period from when a driver is notified about a customer to pick up to when the passenger gets in the vehicle—which currently is considered a coverage gap
  2. when a customer is actually riding in the vehicle—called the ‘ride acceptance’ period

Sen. Simmons believes the proposal is necessary to protect people who may be harmed by ride-service drivers who are on their way to pick up a passenger. In addition, the proposed changes could protect the companies themselves if drivers bypass the app service and notify customers that they are available directly for future rides.

Lobbyists for the transportation network companies, however, dispute the necessity for “on-call” coverage, which they say, will lead to increased fares. Part of the success of Uber and Lyft is a result of traditionally lower fares than standard taxicab company rates.

Currently, these for-hire drivers only need the state minimum of insurance.

Under the proposed legislative bill, the driver or company would be required to carry liability coverage of at least $125,000 for death and bodily injury, at least $50,000 for property damage, and at least $250,000 in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. When a passenger is riding in the vehicle, the coverage would jump to at least $1 million for death, bodily injury and property damage, and $1 million in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Taxi and limousine services, the majority of which are currently controlled by local governments, must carry policies under Florida law that include minimum limits of $125,000 per person for bodily injury, up to $250,000 per incident for bodily injury, and $50,000 for property damage.

The proposal, which still has to clear two additional Senate committees and has not been heard in the House as of yet, comes on the heels of industry requests for the state to clarify insurance requirements in the “for hire” transportation industry.

Click on the link for more information about Florida SB 1298, Insurance for Short-term Rental and Transportation Network Companies.

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Filed under FL Legislation

The 11th Judicial Circuit Court Issues Key Ruling in Health Care Clinic Licensure Case

On March 10, 2015, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County issued a ruling in favor of Imperial Fire & Casualty Insurance in a mandatory licensing (House Bill 119) case. The Court found that the charges submitted for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits to Imperial Fire & Casualty, to be unlawful and thus, noncompensable pursuant to Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law.

Imperial Fire & Casualty issued a policy of automobile insurance to the Insured under which the Defendant, Magic Hands Solutions Inc. sought payment. Magic Hands Solutions operated as a medical clinic and allegedly rendered medical treatment to the Insured who was injured in an automobile accident. Subsequently, Magic Hands Solutions submitted charges for payment of PIP benefits to Imperial Fire & Casualty. Magic Hands Solutions was advised that the claim submitted for PIP benefits was not payable because the clinic was not properly licensed pursuant to Section 627.736, Florida Statutes (2013).

In 2012, the Legislature required mandatory licensing for all clinics holding an exempt status, whether by issuance of Certificate of Exemption or self-determined, in order for clinics to receive reimbursement pursuant to the “PIP Statute.” Hence, a clinic must be licensed under Part X, Chapter 400 to receive reimbursement for PIP benefits, unless it qualifies for an exception listed in Section 627.736(5)(h).

The Court found that the Magic Hands Solutions being wholly owned by a license massage therapist does not qualify for any of the exceptions delineated in §627.736(5)(h)(1)-(6) and was required to obtain a Health Care Clinic license as a condition precedent to receiving reimbursement of PIP benefits.

As a result of Magic Hands Solutions’ failure to obtain a Health Care Clinic License, the Court found that the charges submitted were unlawful and thus, noncompensable pursuant to Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law and that Imperial Fire & Casualty.

Imperial Fire & Casualty Insurance Company vs. Magic Hands Solution Inc., Case No. 2014-2211 CC 24 (01) (Fla. 11th Circuit March 10, 2015).

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)

Auto Insurers Warn that Driverless Cars May Affect Profitability

While driverless cars could be hitting the roads in as little as five years from now, many auto insurers are worried about the far-reaching implications this autonomous technology could have on their industry’s bottom line. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the industry brought in $107.4 billion in passenger-car auto insurance premiums in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available.

In a March 3rd Wall Street Journal article, “The Driverless Car, Officially, Is a Risk,” it was reported that three insurance suppliers as well as an auto parts manufacturer have already cautioned investors in their most recent annual reports that the dawn of the self-driving vehicle and its technology may greatly affect their business model in the future.

Companies usually regard their annual report’s risk-factor disclosures as a place to point out potential difficulties and disruptions and to protect against their liability—not as a prediction of what’s to come. But the fact that driverless cars have been mentioned in several annual reports is telling.

According to the WSJ article, Cincinnati Financial Corp., which produces about a quarter of its premiums from commercial and consumer auto policies, warned its forecasts could be flawed due to “Disruption of the insurance market caused by technology innovations such as driverless cars that could decrease consumer demand for insurance products.”

In addition, Mercury General Corp. said that “the advent of driverless cars and usage-based insurance could materially alter the way that automobile insurance is marketed, priced, and underwritten.” The company provides most of its auto coverage in California.

Industry analysts believe a variety of consequences could result by taking the driver out of the equation:

  • Insurers may sell fewer individual policies
  • Insurers may have to cover fewer accidents
  • Technologically-advanced cars may cost more to repair
  • Some of the expense from consumer auto insurance may shift to commercial liability policies as more automakers and software firms face litigation for accidents
  • Larger policyholders could have more bargaining power than many small ones, potentially putting more pressure on premium revenue

The Insurance Information Institute also addressed this topic on its website. According to the III’s recently-updated report, driverless cars are viewed by the organization as one natural outgrowth from a multitude of advances in safety technology.

Numerous developers of driverless cars are concerned that regulatory matters and costs could delay their launches to market, but in any event, these technologies are still moving forward.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012)

Insurance Coverage Questions Put the Brakes on Miami Rideshare Programs

Plans to introduce Uber and other rideshare programs utilizing technology-based apps in Miami are on hold for now, according to a recent article in the Miami Herald.

Two key members of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioner’s transportation and aviation committee blocked a ride-sharing proposal that would have then gone before the full committee for a vote.

Popular rideshare services, like Uber X, Lyft and Sidecar, have seen accelerated growth in major U.S. cities. Using technology that the taxi industry finds highly disruptive, people with regular driver’s licenses can use their personal vehicles to transport riders for a fee. These drivers register for dispatch services. Accepted drivers are then able to connect to customers and collect fares via credit cards by using smartphone apps.

Critics, however, have accused these providers of working outside the constraints set for taxi and other commercial transit services, for questionable business practices, and for having inadequate insurance coverage for drivers and their vehicles.

San Francisco-based Uber recently announced that it has new insurance to cover the gap “during the time that ridesharing drivers are not providing transportation services for hire, but have the Uber app open and are available to receive a trip request,” according to an article in Insurance Journal.

Uber appears to be the first company, the article notes, to have a policy that extends insurance of ridesharing drivers to cover the potential insurance gap. This liability coverage kicks in only if a driver’s personal insurance fails to cover an incident and provides up to $50,000/individual/incident for bodily injury; $100,000 total/incident for bodily injury; and $25,000/incident for property damage.

A tragic accident over New Year’s Eve in which an Uber driver struck and killed a 6-year old girl when he was logged on to Uber’s app brought national attention to the nascent rideshare industry. Uber has been hit with a wrongful death lawsuit as a result, according to a March 14 Verge article.

Chicago’s City Council has also stepped up efforts to further investigate the insurance gap of the three companies operating in the city and recently subpoenaed their insurance records. The Council is still working to get the necessary evidence of still-undisclosed policies, according to a March 14 article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)

Insurance Information Institute Comments on PIP Premium Changes and Significance of the January 1, 2013 Effective Date of 2012 PIP Law Changes

Tampa Bay Fox 13 recently featured a segment regarding the effect of House Bill 119, the 2012 PIP law change, on PIP premium rates.  Lynne McChristian of the Insurance Information Institute, shed some light what appears to be a lack of a premium decrease.  McChristian indicates that the recent insurer reports are not indicative of what could likely be the case after January 1, 2013, when all of HB119’s changes take effect.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012), Insurance Fraud, Licensing, The Statutory "Fee Schedules"

Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Issues Informational Memorandum On New PIP Statute “Fee Schedules”

On the same day Florida’s new PIP statute was signed by Governor Rick Scott, Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), and Insurance Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty, released  Informational Memorandum OIR-12-02M to address the statutory “fee schedule” provision in the new PIP statute.

The Memorandum itself explains:

The purpose of this memorandum is to assist insurers with the filings necessary to implement the notice requirement in Section 627.736(5)(a)5., Florida Statutes, resulting from the passage of House Bill 119. Among the various provisions of this legislation is a new statutory requirement that insurers provide a notice of the schedule of medical charges or “fee schedule” to insureds if the insurer is limiting reimbursement. The Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has analyzed the revisions and is sending the attached sample endorsement language for inclusion of the schedule of charges specified in Section 627.736(5)(a), Florida Statutes.

The OIR did explain that insurers are not required to used the proposed language that the OIR provided and will expedite the review of the proposed policy endorsements in attempt to obtain approval prior to the July 1, 2012 effective date.

The OIR similarly addressed the two effective dates in the amended PIP law:

It should be noted that the fee schedule in the sample language is the fee schedule that is effective at the time that the notice requirement is established in Florida Statutes (July 1, 2012). It does not include the revisions in House Bill 119 to the fee schedule that become effective on January 1, 2013.

The full press release, including the sample language, is available here.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012), The Statutory "Fee Schedules"