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Is PIP reform coming to Florida? (Part II)

Yesterday we discussed legislation involving auto insurance reform. Some lawmakers want to reform Florida's no-fault auto insurance law in order to protect insurance companies from bad faith insurance litigation. There is still much debate on whether reform is needed and what form any legislation should take. It is also unclear whether any of the proposed bills would eliminate the need for auto insurance litigation, which is necessary for many policyholders to enforce their rights against unscrupulous insurance companies seeking to cut costs.

A House bill pushed by a Bradenton legislator seeks to replace Florida's current PIP law with an insurance scheme that focuses on emergency care coverage. This bill would force car accident victims to receive coverage in emergency rooms within 72 hours of any accident and exclude chiropractors from receiving PIP benefits.

Under the House bill, PIP benefits would remain at $10,000 in medical coverage situations and also provide benefits for funerals and lost wages. It is unclear whether this bill will result in a net reduction in benefits by forcing car accident victims to use the ER, which is the most expensive place to receive medical care.

Another bill proposed in the Senate would reform the current PIP law in ways that prevent fraud and spiraling medical costs. The bill contains medical fee schedules, PIP licensing requirements for clinics, and a mandate for insurers to pay claims promptly. Delay in claim payment is one of the biggest problems in the current PIP system and fuels much of the auto insurance litigation in our state.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Florida Insurance Commissioner: 'This Is Year for PIP Reform," Michael Adams, Feb. 9, 2012

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