Standing in the rotunda of Florida’s capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Florida officials and business leaders called on state lawmakers to reform the state’s no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance law and reduce the costs for drivers and businesses.
Gov. Rick Scott urged PIP reform proponents and citizens to visit their lawmakers and insist they enact reforms this year.
“This is how laws get changed,” Scott said to a crowd. “You show up and let lawmakers know what you want. Tell them we want this change this year.”
Joining Scott was the Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott.
Business leaders also lent their public support to the call for reform. Florida Chamber Executive Vice President Dave Hart called on lawmakers to address both litigation costs, medical costs, and give law enforcement officials more tools to combat fraud.
“Florida now holds the record for the most fraudulent claims,” said Hart. “The time for PIP reform is now.”
The rally happened just hours after the House Subcommittee on Civil Justice approved HB 119, sponsored by Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton). The bill would replace the state’s current no-fault law with a “Emergency Care Coverage” law that includes a laundry-list of fraud provisions including, require more information in law enforcement accident reports, allowing insurers more than 30 days to pay claims in cases where it suspects fraud, and giving insurers the right to question drivers seeking benefits under oath
The bill would also require accident victims to be treated at emergency rooms within 72 hours after an accident to be eligible for benefits.
Addressing litigation costs, lawmakers are also proposing that attorney fees be capped in PIP cases.
Florida’s current PIP law mandates that every driver carry $10,000 of uninsured motorist coverage to pay for medical injuries, loss wages and funeral benefits in the event of an accident. The law is designed to ensure drivers have medical insurance for small claims without the need for litigation.
Insurers, consumers, and many state officials, however, say that the PIP benefits have created a system where unscrupulous attorneys, medical clinics and health care providers fraudulently collect the benefits.
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