Florida Lawmakers Pick up their PIP Fumble


Finally attempting to do their job of representing the people of the State of Florida, the Florida Legislature voted Friday to reinstate PIP insurance in the state. The law, which lawmakers under pressure from insurance companies allowed to expire October 1, mandates that $10,000 in personal injury insurance coverage be included in all automobile insurance policies issued to drivers in the state. This meant that all Floridians would be covered in the event of an automobile accident, even if the other driver were uninsured.

From personal experience, I know that this insurance also covers motorists even when they are walking or biking when they are struck by another car. It insures that medical costs are covered without question and without need of resorting to a court battle for determining fault, and is thus often called the no-fault law.

While legislators tried to promote this action as if it were an example of effective legislative action on behalf of the people, the truth is that the law should never have been allowed to expire. Insurance companies, seeking another opportunity to apply the kinds of tactics used in other states such as Kentucky and Colorado and elsewhere, had claimed that the law unfairly forced them to pay the medical expenses of their policyholders, even the ones they regarded as fraudulent, which included any medical expenses that ran over the artificially low prices given by their medical expense databases.

Of course, the insurance companies were given concessions in the changeover, and the new PIP law will include some anti-fraud measures. The legislation has some reasonable provisions, such as limiting physicians to 200 percent of Medicare reimbursement rates. But it also has some troubling aspects, such as limiting emergency-room charges to 80 percent of their normal rate, leading one to believe that either legislators believe emergency-room rates are artificially inflated—in which case more sweeping legislation is necessary—or else emergency rooms and doctors will have to make up their loss by charging other patients more, and why should people paying out of pocket be forced to subsidize big insurance companies?

Most troubling, though, is that the legislation also sets aside $2 million in grants to state prosecutors to seek out fraudulent or inflated claims in specifically urban areas, such as Palm Beach County or Broward County. Essentially a $2 million handout to insurance companies, the legislation gives the impression that disadvantaged urban populations are greedily seeking an opportunity for fraud because they actually take advantage of the coverage their policy gives them.

Obviously, although the legislature has finally done some work in our favor, the case is not yet closed. If you have been injured in an accident and are suffering from bad-faith insurance practices, you need a lawyer to help. Contact PersonalInjury.com today to get in touch with a local lawyer who can help.