Senate President wants explanations from insurers on PIP

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Key Florida lawmakers are running out of patience with the state’s fraud-plagued no-fault motor vehicle insurance system that has cost policyholders hundred millions of dollars, reports Brent Kallestad of the Associated Press.

Senate President Don Gaetz , R-Niceville, told The Associated Press he isn’t persuaded that reforms to the personal injury protection coverage passed last year have yielded lower premiums for ratepayers. The system is known by its acronym PIP.

“Frankly I’m disappointed in the PIP insurance companies,” Gaetz said. “They promised savings. I want to know where the rate savings are.”

Industry analysts say it’s too early to tell what effect the new provisions, signed into law last May by Gov. Rick Scott, will have on cost savings.

“There is a heavy burden on them right now,” said Gaetz, who doesn’t believe a final decision on PIP will come in the upcoming session. “I don’t think the insurance companies have come through like they said they would come through.”

However, it is unlikely Scott or lawmakers will want to face disgruntled voters in 2014 without doing something on an issue that has eluded resolution for years.

Florida motorists have been required to buy no-fault PIP coverage since 1972 to make sure anyone injured in a crash gets money to treat their injuries without delay. A driver’s insurance company is required to pay up to $10,000 for medical bills and lost wages no matter who is at fault.

The new measure was largely designed to crack down on the rampant fraud that has haunted PIP in recent years, most notably in the Tampa and Miami areas. Those areas have been hotbeds for staged accidents and fraudulent claims, not to mention some eager health care providers and lawyers anxious to cash in as well.

The new law put a 14-day limit on seeking treatment following a crash and capped benefits at $2,500 unless a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, dentist or a supervised physician’s assistant or advanced registered nurse practitioner determines the injured person has an “emergency medical condition.” Chiropractors, however, can no longer make that determination.

More from the AP’s story here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.