PIP Bill would help Insurance Companies not Florida Consumers

PIP Bill would help Insurance Companies not Florida Consumers

Sun Sentinel Editorial

Recently, the Florida automobile insurance industry has engaged in a massive media campaign designed to convince legislators and consumers that there is rampant fraud in Florida’s No-Fault/Personal Injury Protection system.

As in all areas of business, fraud related to PIP claims does exist, and efforts should be made to root it out. The truth, however, is that only 4 percent of alleged PIP fraud cases referred to the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud actually result in convictions. The legislation being proposed has little to do with preventing fraud but is instead designed to increase insurance company profits by making it easier for insurers to delay payments and deny PIP claims.

The proposed bill imposes multiple cumbersome requirements on medical providers and policyholders before their bills will even be considered for payment. One of the more outrageous proposed provisions would require medical providers to submit to deposition-like questioning, examinations under oath, before they could get paid.

The end result of such draconian requirements will be that medical providers will be unwilling to accept PIP insurance as a method of payment. Since most accident victims do not have health insurance, they will be unable to get the prompt treatment they need — as was the original intent of PIP.

Another troubling component of the proposed legislation is that it reverses Florida’s longstanding policy of requiring insurance companies that wrongfully deny a claim to pay their policyholder’s reasonable attorney’s fees. This provision provides the only means by which a policyholder can obtain competent legal counsel with the necessary experience and skills to litigate against a billion-dollar insurance company.

All of this comes on the heels of a Dec. 21 report by the Insurance Services Office, the Property Casualty Insurers Association and the Insurance Information Institute that showed an increase of more than 60 percent in insurance companies’ net profits from 2009 through the first three quarters of 2010. Further, despite claims by some that auto insurance costs in Florida are skyrocketing, a March 14 report by insure.com indicates that the average Florida auto insurance premium is below the national average. The report also showed that in the past year, Florida actually dropped from 25th to 29th in ranking for most costly insurance rates by state.

Ultimately, the provisions contained within these bills will discourage good doctors/medical care providers and attorneys from helping those injured in an auto accident.

Let’s focus on fighting real fraud and preserving the original intention of the PIP law.

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