To register a vehicle in Florida, drivers still are required to have property damage liability, which covers damage done to another person's car or property in an accident.
Once the new law was signed, insurers were again required to notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles when a driver cancels a policy or lets it lapse so the license can be suspended. There's a $150 fee to reinstate a driver's license. That fine jumps to $250 for a second offense and $500 if a license is revoked within a three-year period.
Ironically, drivers who had their licenses suspended before Oct. 1 for not carrying PIP and property damage insurance as required by the old law got a gift when the law expired. The suspension was rescinded. But they aren't in the clear entirely.
With the new law in place, Dave Westberry, deputy executive director for DHSMV, says the agency can now actively track those drivers who aren't carrying property damage coverage.
Westberry says it has been this enforcement mechanism that has allowed Florida to have a relatively low number of uninsured drivers -- about 5 percent last month out of the more than 15 million drivers in the state.
Alex Chavez, district manager for AAA Auto Club South in Miami-Dade, one of the largest independent insurance agencies serving consumers, says there's definitely confusion among customers about these three months. But it's not chaotic yet.
''Many are asking about extra coverages. We're explaining to them what [the law requires] now and what will be needed in January,'' he said.
But Chavez expects more consumer confusion if they're involved in an accident before year-end and realize the no-fault provision of the new auto insurance law doesn't apply until Jan. 1.
Under a no-fault system, insurers will pay for damages to a vehicle and cover the initial medical -- here in Florida that's what PIP covers -- without deciding who caused the accident. If an insurer later establishes that its policyholder isn't responsible for the accident, it will sue the other driver's insurer to recover what it had paid or for additional damages.
The benefit of such a system for drivers is that they are shielded from lawsuits for relatively minor accidents and their damages are paid quickly by their insurers.
But under Florida's new no-fault law, the tort immunity doesn't kick in until Jan. 1. So any accident, even a minor one, could result in a lawsuit and a court battle.
Jess noted that one provision in the new law states that if both drivers are carrying PIP, then the tort immunity applies to them for an accident. Yet, Jess believes the constitutionality of that provision could be challenged. The upside is that since it's in place for less than three months, a court challenge may never materialize.
David Durkee, a partner with the Coral Gables law firm of Roberts & Durkee who has represented auto accident victims, says also without the no-fault law in effect, the higher standard it maintains for proving a permanent injury is gone until Jan. 1.
''A person could be encouraged to file lawsuit if they're involved in an accident and they have to cover medical bills and lost wages,'' says Durkee.