Some drivers breathed a sigh of relief that Florida's no-fault auto insurance law will return in January.
Others are just happy they can skip buying some coverages until the new year.
But the bottom line for both camps: Buying extra coverage to cover medical bills from an auto accident is up to each driver. But agents, insurers and attorneys say consumers should review their policies and make sure they have sufficient insurance to cover their needs.
The new no-fault law, signed by Gov. Charlie Crist Thursday, will require drivers to buy at least $10,000 in personal injury protection, or PIP, starting Jan. 1.
Consumers who pay for their own health insurance or have it provided through work could save some money by not purchasing PIP for three months.
Paul Jess, president of the Florida Justice Association and lobbyist for the trial attorneys, has temporarily dropped his PIP coverage because he has health insurance.
But Jess urges every driver to carry adequate bodily injury liability, which covers medical bills for another driver and passengers if you cause an accident, and uninsured motorist coverage, which pays your bills if you have an accident with a driver that carries no insurance.
Some consumers like Jose Peralta of Miami would prefer not to buy personal injury protection at all to save the money: ''Anything that's cheaper is good for me because I'm retired and have a fixed income.'' But he knows he will have to add it when his policy renews next year.
Insurers have to notify their policyholders by Nov. 15 that PIP coverage will be added to their policies come January and the policy premium will increase -- generally about $200 a year.
''A lot of policies are being sold without PIP,'' says Michael Johnston, Southeast region president for Gainsco Auto Insurance, a Texas-based company that sells nonstandard coverage throughout Florida.
''We're selling the minimum required. People became informed pretty quickly and many realized they didn't have to buy PIP,'' he adds, noting the company is offering medical payments coverage that drivers can buy right now if they don't have health insurance to cover medical care after an accident.
''Those drivers that purchase insurance only because they have to will want to wait until Jan. 1 to buy PIP, no matter what you explain to them. Those that want protection ask more questions, and want to keep their PIP and already have bodily injury coverage,'' said Arnie Vasquez, who owns All Motors Insurance Agency in Miami.
Vasquez is also the president of the Specialty Agents of Florida, a trade group that represents many agents who are with the non-standard auto insurers, those that tend to cover younger drivers, ones with bad credit histories or spotty driving records. These agents were big proponents of revamping and renewing the no-fault auto insurance law.
Pablo Conde, president of A&A Underwriters, an agency in West Miami-Dade, says many business owners aren't big fans of PIP.
Although the coverage will again be required on commercial vehicles starting Jan. 1, businesses have to carry workers compensation insurance, which covers injuries on the job, including auto accidents.
''Many say they don't really need it, even though PIP benefits would cover the first $10,000 in medical bills'' for an employee involved in a car accident at work and then workers comp benefits kick in, says Conde.