Can a Section of a Statute Be Applied Retroactively to An Insurance Policy Issued Prior to the Enactment of the Statute ?
Can section 627.736(11), Florida Statutes (2001), be applied retroactively to an insurance policy issued prior to the enactment of the statute ?
In State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Laforet, 658 So. 2d 55, 61 (Fla. 1995), the Supreme Court of Florida held that section 627.727(10), Florida Statutes, which imposed a penalty on insurers who in bad faith failed to settle uninsured motorist claims, could not be applied retroactively "because it was, in substance, a penalty." Laforet, 658 So. 2d at 61.
In Allstate Insurance Co. v. Holy Cross Hospital, Inc., 961 So. 2d 328, 331-32 (Fla. 2007), the court explained in detail the history and purpose of the statute:
The No-Fault Law is a comprehensive statutory scheme, the purpose of which is to "provide for medical, surgical, funeral, and disability insurance benefits without regard to fault, and to require motor vehicle insurance securing such benefits." 627.731, Fla. Stat. (2006); accord United Auto. Ins. Co. v. Rodriguez, 808 So. 2d 82, 85 (Fla. 2001) (stating that the intent of the No-Fault Law is "to provide a minimum level of insurance benefits without regard to fault").
The No-Fault Law mandates security that can be established by alternative means, one of which is PIP insurance. See 627.733, Fla. Stat. (2006).
The "Required Personal Injury Protection" provision, or the PIP statute, is codified at section 627.736 and is "an integral part of the no-fault statutory scheme." Flores v. Allstate Ins. Co., 819 So. 2d 740, 744 (Fla. 2002).
The statute requires motor vehicle insurance policies issued in Florida to provide PIP benefits for bodily injury "arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle." 627.736(1), Fla. Stat. (2006); accord Blish v. Atlanta Cas. Co., 736 So. 2d 1151, 1153 (Fla. 1999).
The PIP statute is unique, in that it abolished "a traditional common-law right by limiting the recovery available to car accident victims" and in exchange, required PIP insurance that was recoverable without regard to fault. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Nichols, 932 So. 2d 1067, 1077 (Fla. 2006).
Although recovery is restricted under this statutory scheme, this Court has held that the PIP statute is a reasonable alternative to common law tort principles in that it provides "swift and virtually automatic payment so that the injured insured may get on with his life without undue financial interruption." Id. (quoting Ivey v. Allstate Ins. Co., 774 So. 2d 679, 683-84 (Fla. 2000)).