PIP insurance reform: assuring change benefits consumers
As part of Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law enacted in 1973, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance provides medical benefits following an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. The No-Fault Law and PIP were originally intended to alleviate the need to resolve accident injury issues in court. Unfortunately, this system has for years been overrun with fraud and abuse. State legislators are again considering whether to repeal the No-Fault/PIP system and replace it with a new system of mandated coverages for all Florida drivers.
What is PIP insurance fraud?
The PIP coverage mandate for all Florida drivers covers up to $10,000 in medical, dental, disability or death benefits, whether the policy holder was at fault or not.
PIP covers the insured driver, relatives living in the same household, those operating the insured motor vehicle, its passengers, and other people struck by the motor vehicle who are injured. The mandated coverage pays eighty percent of all reasonable expenses for medically necessary medical, surgical X-ray, dental and rehabilitative services, up to $10,000, if the individual receives initial services and care within 14 days after a motor vehicle accident. PIP does not cover massage or acupuncture services.
Since its inception, PIP has been plagued by a cottage industry of pain clinics and other care providers who have abused this system. While authorities have made significant strides in addressing fraudulent activity, there is a long history of PIP clinics making false or exaggerated medical claims, and in some instances, maxing out the insured driver’s $10,000 in PIP benefits for services that were never provided. Over decades, this abuse has increased auto accident claims costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, increased costly litigation and contributed to higher auto insurance costs for Floridians.
Some guiding principles for PIP reform
State legislators have made several attempts over the years to reform and even repeal PIP. This issue is again on the table for consideration in Florida’s 2021 legislative session. If legislators do move forward with a repeal of No-Fault/PIP and replace it with a new system, the Consumer Protection Coalition urges that they assure the following:
That any replacement system either produces cost savings for Florida motorists or improves the value of required coverages, rather than increases the cost of purchasing and maintaining auto insurance in the state;
That the new system improves, and does not exacerbate, Florida’s already excessive litigation environment.
Put the Brakes on PIP Repeal
The Florida Legislature is considering two bills that would repeal the state’s existing No-Fault/PIP auto insurance system and replace it with a new system requiring all drivers to carry mandatory bodily injury and property damage coverage.
These bills, House Bill 719 and Senate Bill 54, could increase the cost of auto insurance for millions of Floridians – by a whole lot. Many premiums could skyrocket between $165 and $876 annually, one analysis found. And worse, these bills fail to fully address the excessive amount of frivolous auto accident lawsuits that are driving up the cost of insurance for all of us, and clogging our already crowded courts.
Now is the time to speak out.