From the March 5, 2012 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

Florida PIP Bill Heads to House Floor

The Florida House Economic Affairs Committee has advanced legislation to reform the state’s no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) program.

The bill, HB 119, now heads to the floor of the Florida House with less than two weeks left in the state-legislative session. According to the Florida Insurance Council, the bill needs to be merged with a Senate package, SB 1860, which comes before the Senate Budget Committee next week.

The House bill replaces the mandatory PIP no-fault insurance coverage with “emergency care coverage.”

HB 119, among many things, would change the way accident reports are taken; provide coverage limits; establish a schedule of maximum charges; create a list of diagnostic tests deemed not to be medically necessary; and control attorneys’ fees.

To be eligible for medical-care coverage benefits, victims of accidents must seek treatment within 72 hours of the accident.

Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud, a coalition of Florida consumers, business leaders, law-enforcement officials and others says the measure is “a step in the right direction for cracking down on PIP fraud in Florida.”

For years the insurance industry has alleged fraud by the state’s health-care clinics, adding that organized staged-accident rings take advantage of holes in the system.

Gov. Rick Scott and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater have outlined four steps to reform the no-fault law (enacted in the early 1970s), which requires drivers to have PIP that provides $10,000 in coverage per person for medical bills, regardless of fault in an accident.

Up to $10,000 of medical benefits remain available to people diagnosed with an emergency medical condition—but HB 119 limits reimbursement for non-emergency injuries.

Medical benefits of $1,500 are available to those who go to the emergency room and do not have a diagnosed emergency medical condition or to those who go to another medical doctor—such as a dentist, physician assistant, osteopathic physician or advanced registered nurse practitioner—in a timely manner.

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