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New Year's may mean new insurance headaches for Florida drivers 2

If Jan. 1, 2013, was anything like Jan. 1, 2012, about 25 percent more accidents occurred on Florida's roads than would occur on a normal Tuesday. A leading auto insurer discovered the spike in last year's claims in a recent study, as we discussed in our last post. Claims filed for New Year's 2013 may follow the pattern, but they will look much different in other ways, thanks to the state's new insurance laws.

Beginning Jan. 1, the personal injury protection coverage provisions of Florida's no-fault insurance law got a bit stricter. The new laws affect the timing of treatment, the type of treatment and the level of compensation for injured parties.

A person injured in a car accident must now seek medical care within 14 days of the crash. Failure to do so could result in denial of the claim. And, the injured person cannot see just anyone for that first visit. The initial exam must be provided by emergency responders, received in a hospital or a hospital-owned facility, or provided by a physician, osteopath, dentist or chiropractor.

That is just the first visit. If further treatment is necessary, that initial healthcare provider must refer the injured person to another authorized provider. Follow-up providers include everyone on the list of initial care providers as well as physician's assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, physical therapists and certain health care clinics.

What's missing from the list: Massage therapists and acupuncturists are no longer covered, with or without a referral.

Unfortunately, the new law does not stop with the care. It also limits coverage based on the severity of the injury. And we'll discuss that in our next post.

Source: NASDAQ, "Florida, your insurance coverage just changed," CarInsurance.com, Dec. 20, 2012

Our firm works with clients whose claims have been denied in situations like the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our website.

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