Listen up Florida legislators, especially those of you who grew up or lived in the New York City area. Personal injury protection (PIP) fraud is on the rise and drivers in the Big Apple are carrying the cost. Florida has the same problem and there’s something you can do about it.
An extensive study of more than 4,500 instances in which New Yorkers filed PIP claims tell how badly PIP insurance is being abused. In New York City, 4 out of 10 people who claimed they were injured in an accident said they visited an acupuncturist for treatment. Upstate, only 3 in 50 filed such claims.
For chiropractic treatments, 5 in 10 of those living New York and its suburbs filed claims versus 2 in 10 upstate residents. Overall, 44% of those injured in New York City-area accidents visited 4 or more healthcare providers versus just 14% upstate.
Even factoring in cosmopolitan differences, the PIP numbers don’t add up, according to the Insurance Research Council. The council and state fraud investigators say that organized groups of fraudsters are using minor or fake accidents to run up medical and lost-wage bills that by law can total as much as $50,000 per person per accident.
In Florida, PIP claims are capped at $10,000, but the problem is still the same: People are ripping off the auto insurance system. Even though there is a $10,000 cap for medical benefits, the attorneys fees awarded in Florida PIP cases far exceed that amount and make PIP a very lucrative fraud business.
Medical care providers are milking auto insurance companies with faked injuries, staged accidents and the like. When insurers don’t pay fast enough, the clinics tap plaintiff attorneys who will sue for as little as $1.29.
Who gets stuck with the bill? In New York, not the insurance companies. Drivers in the Bronx paid an average of $754 a year in PIP premiums in 2009, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. That was more than three times as much as the state as a whole, which averaged just $202.
Wondering how you can help your constituents, Florida legislator? Join the fight against PIP fraud. You’ll be helping your neighbors, the police and the courts. You can even show New Yorkers how it’s done.