Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty is asking a court to allow continued enforcement of the new Personal Injury Protection law, appealing an injunction a Tallahassee circuit court judge issued.
Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled the law that Gov. Rick Scott signed last May illegally prevents accident patients from using PIP claims to pay for treatment by acupuncturists and massage therapists. He also found fault with the law’s lower limit on how much it will pay for non-emergency medical care. The Office of Insurance Regulation, in its filing on Thursday, sought a stay of the injunction pending its appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. The law was expected to eventually lower rates 14 percent to 24.6 percent, but the savings have been slow in coming. The bill was considered a last ditch effort to maintain the no-fault coverage that requires motorists to carry $10,000 in medical coverage. The alternative would be to replace the system with bodily injury insurance, which could put medical coverage into the courts as the injured party seeks to recoup expenses from the at-fault motorist.
Scott, who pushed for the PIP changes, promised to fight for the new law. “Our personal injury protection legislation was designed to stop the high costs passed on to Florida families by car insurance companies because of excessive lawsuits, waste and fraud,” Scott said in a statement after Lewis’ ruling. “Since our legislation, more than 70 percent of the insurance rates approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation have either decreased or held steady, compared to a majority of rate increases before our reforms. Our reforms are working to lower insurance costs for Florida families and we will continue to fight special interest groups to keep them in place.”