Flanked by local law enforcement today, Governor Rick Scott signed legislation to reform auto accident fraud in Florida, this year's number one consumer protection issue. This meaningful legislation will lower the cost of auto insurance premiums for Florida drivers by limiting fraud in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Accident fraud would have cost average Floridians over $1 billion this year if PIP reform was not passed.
"Growing up in a family without a lot of money, I truly understand the value of the hard-earned dollar for Florida families," Governor Scott said. "By helping reduce fraudulent auto accident claims, this legislation will benefit the pocketbooks of every Florida family who drives an automobile. I am glad to do my part in keeping the cost of living low in Florida, and I will continue to work to find ways to do so."
According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the number of Florida drivers has remained stable, and the frequency of crashes has declined from 2006 to 2010. In spite of these facts, the number of PIP claims opened or recorded increased 28 percent. In addition, the payment on PIP claims increased 66 percent during the same period. These claims have caused auto insurance premiums to burden Florida families. For example, a family in Miami making $40,000 a year can pay nearly 14 percent of their annual salary on personal injury protection. Legislation that stops fraud and reduces costs will protect these families.
Included in the legislation signed today:
The law requires that the accident victim receive initial treatment within a 14 day window. Benefits may not be used as payment for massage and acupuncture.
Both the short and long crash report must be used, depending on the circumstance, by the participating officer.
Benefits can now be denied if the insured refuses to be examined under oath about information relevant to the claim only.
Provides judges the opportunity to review attorney fees to ensure that each attorney doesn't over inflate the hours or amount of skill involved and represents reasonable legal services.
All clinics eligible for reimbursement must pay a licensure fee and sign fraud notices regarding fraudulent, misleading or false claims.
Medical providers and entities may charge the insurer and injured party only a reasonable amount for services and care rendered.
A licensed health care practitioner found guilty of fraud relating to PIP services loses his/her license for five years and may not receive reimbursement for PIP services for ten years.