Insurers To Fund A Fraud Prosecutor In Miami

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By Daniel Hays

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NU Online News Service, Sept. 29, 4:30 p.m.EDT?An underwriting pool in Florida plans to pay the salary of aprosecutor assigned to pursue auto injury fraud cases in the Miamiarea, an insurance trade group said.

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The decision by the Joint Underwriting Association to providethe funds was noted by the National Association of IndependentInsurers based in Des Plaines, Ill.

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Tammie Torres, a spokesperson for the Florida InsuranceDepartment, said that "a lot of things have to be worked out" andfull details of the plan would be announced Friday.

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NAII praised the JUA decision to provide $150,000 for theposition at a time when state expenditures have been crimped bybudget problems.

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James Taylor, southeastern regional manager for NAII, said themove was a "significant step toward serious auto insurance reformin Florida. The insurance industry has long awaited this move, andlooks forward to working closely with the prosecutor to crack downon insurance crime."

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He noted that it has been difficult to secure prosecutionsbecause district attorneys and prosecutors have focused theirattention on violent offenders.

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He noted that the Florida legislature has passed a variety oflaws making it easier for companies and individuals to report fraudand those legal changes make it easier to make a [insurance fraud]case."

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With the state facing a significant budget shortfall, "the JUAis willing to fund position in the Division of Insurance Fraud," henoted.

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According to NAII, the new prosecutor and an assistant will haveoffices in Dad County State's Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundel'soffice. Ms. Torres said, however, that where the prosecutor wouldbe housed and who prosecutor and assistant would report to wasbeing worked out.

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NAII said it is estimated that 80 percent of the time there isan element of fraud in Florida personal injury protectionclaims.

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