In an effort to reform Florida’s no fault auto insurance system, a new PIP law has been put on the books. Florida car insurance premiums have been on the rise and the insurance companies claim it is due to rampant fraud claims. 

The stated goal of the new law is to reduce PIP premiums, which cost Floridians up to an extra $1 billion each year when compared to car insurance in other states.  

The personal injury protection law was enacted in 1971. The law originally stated that a driver’s insurance company is required to pay up to $10,000 for related medical expenses incurred in an auto accident. It was meant to help those who are injured cover their medical expenses for injuries sustained in a car accident.

However, lately, the governor claims that too many accidents have been “staged” so that drivers and “false” medical clinics can collect the $10,000 from insurance companies.

The new law states that a car accident victim must receive treatment within 14 days of the accident from a hospital, physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or a dentist.

The insured must have an “emergency medical condition” to receive the full $10,000. If it is not considered an “emergency medical condition”, the PIP medical benefit is limited to $2,500.

Also, a referral is required for follow up care. Persons will not be reimbursed for massage therapy or acupuncture expenses. The maximum reimbursement that chiropractors and physical therapists can receive is $2,500.

With the reform, if a health care practitioner is found guilty of insurance fraud, they will lose their license for five years and be ineligible for PIP reimbursement for 10 years.

Although a cap on attorney’s fees didn’t make it into the law, other limits on attorneys were enacted. Attorneys are now prohibited from overstating the number of hours needed to spend on a specific case. However, they are not limited on the amount they can charge per hour.

Insurance companies will be required to lower their PIP premiums by at least 10%, but they can ask the state to be exempt from the rate cuts. Even if the insurance companies reduce their rates, it could take until 2013 for drivers to see a change in their premiums.

Damian Mallard, Esq.
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Board Certified Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney