Have you heard on the news all this talk about PIP Insurance and Auto Insurance Fraud? Does it shock you, or make you think that Florida’s Auto Insurance Laws need reform?
By now, you’ve probably heard our Governor, Ric Scott, saying again and again that there is a $1 billion dollars in Automobile/PIP Insurance Fraud a year in Florida. He calls it a tax on Florida citizens, and uses this figure to argue his case that Florida should adopt dramatic and bold PIP insurance reform.
However, Gov. Scott has failed to announce to the public that the $1 billion dollar in fraud he is talking about doesn’t really exist. The problem with the Governor’s number is that it is based on flawed data, provided only by insurance carriers. In April of 2011, the Department of Insurance Regulation released a Report on their Personal Injury Data Call. The Data Call numbers were all provided by the insurance carriers themselves. This data was independently audited and reviewed by a prominent economist, Lorilee A. Medders, Ph. D. In October, Dr. Medders released a Report, which found significant flaws and flat out false information in the numbers provided by the insurance companies.
So why this important to you? Because the Governor and his supports are using this $1 billion dollar figure in an attempt to pass legislation which would significantly impact your ability to use your No Fault Insurance when you are in an accident. The Governor supports a bill, House bill 119, which would force all accident victims to go to a Hospital Emergency Room within 72 hours of an accident, or they would not be eligible for No Fault benefits under the Automobile Insurance Policy. The bill would no longer allow the accident victim to choose to see their own doctor or primary care physician following an accident. It would further not provide reimbursement for chiropractic care or massage therapy, both of which many auto accidents victims require to treat their injuries.
Even worse, the Governor has not supported a bill which would require Florida drivers to carry Bodily Injury coverage. Florida is in the extreme minority of states that does not require Mandatory Bodily Injury Coverage, i.e., coverage for damage caused to someone else’s body in a car accident. This year, the Legislature had the option to change Florida’s insurance system, and move away from PIP to BI, or, in a better choice and as currently drafted in Rep. Michael Horner’s House Bill (HB 1007), keep some first party coverage for immediate care, and require Mandatory Bodily Injury in the amount of $25,000 per person.
Knowledge Equals Power in Orlando Auto Accident Cases
Despite these bills, which would dramatically help the claims of injured persons, Republican leaders, including CFO Atwater and Governor Scott, have chosen to completely ignore Mandatory Bodily Injury as an option for Florida consumers. They have instead chosen to back a bill that does nothing more than restrict your benefits and treatment options.