PIP Reform Package Reaches the Desk of Gov. Rick Scott
The auto insurance reform package that was one of Gov. Rick Scott’s three major issues in the regular legislative session was among the bills reaching his desk Friday.
Scott and Florida CFO Jeff Atwater have repeatedly said fraud involving personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance has cost Floridians $1 billion a year in higher premiums.
HB 119 was approved by the Legislature on the final day of the regular session, March 9.
Scott quickly declared the legislative passage of the bill as giving him a perfect score for the session, along with his push for $1 billion increased funding for education as well as the tax and regulation cuts as part of his jobs package.
The reform of personal injury protection has been cheered by two of the state’s biggest business advocates, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida.
The insurance bill was a compromise that heavily favored the Senate proposal by placing no cap attorney fees, giving accident victims two weeks to seek medical help, allowing chiropractors to treat patients, and imposing a prohibition on allowing massage therapists and acupuncturists to be eligible for PIP claims. Insurers would have 90 days to pay claims and an organization within the Division of Insurance Fraud would be created to combat motor vehicle insurance fraud.
Health-care practitioners found guilty of insurance fraud would have their licenses revoked for five years and be banned from seeking PIP reimbursement for a decade.
Groups such as the Florida Consumer Action Network, Florida Medical Association, Florida Justice Association, Florida Chiropractic Association, Florida Osteopathic Medical Association and the Florida Public Interest Research Group had argued that the House version of the reform bill, which was initially supported by Scott, would be a boon to insurance companies.
The state Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate, which backed the reform effort, has estimated that PIP losses have caused rates to grow 81 percent since 2008, representing a $1.4 billion hike.
Scott has until May 5 to sign the bill.