Governor Rick Scott's Proposed Reform to PIP Gains Traction
Toward the end of 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater launched an initiative calling for massive reforms to Florida’s no-fault personal injury protection insurance.
According to a statement by Governor Scott, the cost of PIP insurance coverage will rise by at least 29% every year if no action is taken, as the cost is passed on directly to the motorists. Scott cited an example of a Tallahassee woman whose insurance premium raised 60% solely as a result of relocating to Tampa.
The central and southern Florida region, including Tampa and Orlando, are notorious for staged accidents, fraudulent pain clinics, and unethical lawyer referral services, according to Jeff Atwater. The new initiative hopes to prevent fraudsters from falsely obtaining PIP benefits while still protecting those with legitimate injuries.
As a result of the campaign, Florida’s PIP law reform became effective on January 1st, 2013. In hopes of combatting fraud, Florida accident victims must now meet additional criteria before receiving benefits. The reform includes tougher stipulations like proof of necessary medical emergency treatment, a $2,500 benefit limit for non-emergency medical diagnoses, a 60-90 day time period allotted to insurance companies to properly investigate suspicious claims, and the ability for insurance companies to demand an independent medical examination as a precondition to receiving PIP benefits. The new law also excludes PIP payment for supplemental treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture, which were permitted under the old law.
Going into 2014, residents of central and southern Florida will learn if the new law is truly effective based on whether or not auto insurance premiums begin to decline gradually upon policy renewal.