Floridians are calling for reform of personal injury protection (PIP). Will legislators listen, or will all the bills that contain meaningful changes be killed, just as they were in 2011?
Gov. Rick Scott and CFO Jeff Atwater joined a broad coalition of Florida consumers, business leaders, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens in Tallahassee on Jan. 25. They urged legislature to “Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud and Abuse.
Scott, Atwater and former Florida Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter said that fraud, abuse and excessive litigation were identified as problems in 1975. However, “PIP remains the domain of those who exploit the broken system in order to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers — further illustrating that the PIP system is long overdue for meaningful reform and the Legislature must act this session to end the nearly $1 billion fraud tax and stop accident fraud,” according to a joint statement.
“I urge the Senate and the House to work together on a comprehensive package that will actually get to the root of the problem and address this issue once and for all,” said Gov. Scott.
Others spoke out on the need for reform:
“I am a good driver, but with current trends, I will soon be priced out of the automobile insurance market.”
“Every day, I hear more and more deceptive and coercive advertisements that seem to encourage fraudulent claims,” said Cydnee Knoth, a Tampa resident who traveled to Tallahassee to urge the legislature to act on PIP.
“We cannot wait any longer for relief from the expense of fraud and litigation abuse.“
“Florida cannot sustain the ever-growing burden of a broken PIP system. Florida families and businesses continue to take the brunt of this unresolved billion dollar problem,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We are hopeful and expectant that the 2012 Session will be marked by comprehensive change.“
“Florida’s no-fault system is creating problems for Florida’s businesses and consumers.”
“In order for this legislation to successfully impact Florida consumers and businesses, we truly believe it must have teeth to it,” said Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. “Florida consumers and businesses deserve nothing less.”
The coalition urged lawmakers to include these key reforms in a final bill:
- Reasonable limitations on attorneys’ fees to remove the incentive to file frivolous lawsuits at the expense of Florida drivers.
- Increased anti-fraud controls to identify suspicious claims and allow insurers time to investigate those claims to avoid unnecessary payments paid by innocent consumers.
- Enhanced controls on medical costs, through clarification of the medical fee schedule and other tools that rein in high utilization of questionable medical procedures, the costs of which are passed on to consumers.
A leading business group, Associated Industries of Florida also participated in the event. In a separate editorial for a Florida newspaper, Jose L. Gonzalez, vice president of governmental affairs, said effective legislation is needed because PIP fraud affects, “the neediest Floridians most, particularly those on fixed incomes.”