Florida’s top auto insurance companies were strongly urging the Florida Senate to pass the Motor Vehicle Insurance Affordability Act as the issue came up for a vote Monday.
Senate Bill 1202 reportedly has the teeth to make a real dent against rampant fraud in personal injury protection insurance claims, said Charles Grimsley, president of the Florida Property and Casualty Association. PIP fraud costs Florida families $1.5 billion a year, and the Senate bill would eventually lead to lower premiums for all motorists. Florida’s Department of Insurance and the Florida Insurance Council also support this bill according to Grimsley.
“This is not an insurance issue, but rather a consumer issue,” said Grimsley. “If nothing substantial is done to reform PIP insurance this legislative session, unscrupulous doctors and attorneys will continue to loot the system and penalize every honest Florida motorist who will continue being sacked with higher auto insurance costs.”
The Senate bill reportedly contains significant, legitimate reform provisions that have a very real chance of effectuating improvement in the PIP insurance market. It calls for stronger penalties for people who commit PIP fraud, holds medical providers accountable for PIP insurance benefits, and takes away incentives for attorneys to file bogus lawsuits, by reducing their legal fees. But Grimsley noted that certain lobbyists for PIP clinics, chiropractors, doctors and lawyers are aggressively attempting to kill this legislation.
“They’ll do anything they can to keep the status quo and keep the fraud flourishing,” said Grimsley. “But it’s consumers they are really hurting,” he said.
The Florida House is also considering a reform bill, but it is not nearly as strong as the Senate’s measure, said Grimsley. “If House Bill 1819 were to pass, it would repeat the mistake of the 2001 Legislative session, which enacted a bill that was so decimated by these lobbyists that it was completely ineffective at even slowing down the PIP fraud. Once the Senate passes this important legislation, our sights will be set on the House, where the lawyers’ and doctors’ lobbyists have had more of an impact,” said Grimsley.
During the weekend, the Florida Property and Casualty Association was to launch a statewide media blitz urging Senators to pass the legislation.
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