Today, Governor Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and legislative leaders identified four issues that must be addressed in order to rein in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance fraud and reduce insurance rates for Florida consumers.
According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the number of Florida drivers has remained stable and the frequency of crashes has declined from 2006 to 2010 while the number of PIP claims opened or recorded increased 28 percent. In addition, the payment on PIP claims increased 66 percent during the same period.
“To tackle this nearly billion dollar hidden tax and keep the cost of living low in our state, Florida must have significant PIP reform,” Governor Scott said. “As I have heard from Floridians, they are fed up with being cheated by scammers who get a payday while innocent citizens get stuck with skyrocketing insurance costs.”
The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law requires Florida drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) that provides $10,000 per person for medical bills, regardless of which driver is at fault for causing the crash.
“Regrettably, our state’s auto insurance system has been taken over by a circling pool of piraya – fraud clinics, lawyer referral services and organized crime – that have been making their millions on the backs of every Floridian with a car in the driveway,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “Today, we stop throwing consumers to the wolves and take action to drive down the cost of auto insurance for Florida’s consumers.”
Governor Scott and CFO Atwater announced four pillars that his office says must be addressed to lower automobile insurance rates for Floridians:
1. Fraud Prevention. Florida leads the nation in staged crashes and questionable claims, and often individuals not involved in the crash receive PIP benefits.
2. Litigation Reform. From 2006 to 2010, PIP-related lawsuits pending at year-end increased by 387 percent. Attorney fees often far exceed the value of the $10,000 coverage and the damage amounts in dispute.
3. Utilization and Provider Reform. Florida is above the national average in the amount of medical provider charges per claim and the number of procedures per claim. Florida must address fraud and abuse to reduce these occurrences.
4. Accountability. Governor Scott and CFO Atwater called for a plan to gather the data needed to evaluate the legislation’s overall effectiveness to stop PIP fraud and abuse and drive down rates.