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A Solution to PIP Fraud in Florida

The Answer Lies Not in the Legislature, But in the Streets and Courts

PIP fraud has a lot of people complaining but not enough of them doing anything about it. Slick plaintiff lawyers and so-called consumer groups have so demonized auto insurance companies that it has become difficult to convince voters and legislators that action is needed now.

The advertising and public relations assault has hidden the truth about PIP fraud in Florida:

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, has filed a bill that would require medical or lawyer referral services to conform to The Florida Bar rules regarding advertising and solicitations. Clearly, that racket has gotten out of hand. The company behind the 411-PAIN campaign spends upwards of $10 million annually on advertising.

In the Margolis bill, The Florida Bar would review and possibly prohibit the television ads and billboards that drive accident victims to a toll-free number that routes the calls to lawyers’ offices. The measure would close a loophole that currently enables lawyers to get around Bar rules by using a middleman to chase potential clients. The law would also stop a medical referral service from sending patients only to clinics in which the service has a financial stake.

To effect change, insurance companies and their customers should support efforts to increase public funding (no, not raise taxes) for state and local investigators. The more detectives we have on the job, the sooner we can drive criminal rings and shady medical center operators out of the state. That’s a first step.

Second, we need to close local loopholes on medical clinics. The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners led the way in September when it tightened regulations on medical clinics that primarily treat people involved in automobile accidents and earn the majority of their income through PIP claims. The same rules should be adopted in Florida’s other 66 counties.

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