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Controversial PIP Reexamined by Florida Legislature

FL PIP Statue Makes Its Way To Congress

FL’s Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) laws have been the center of controversy lately. First there was the massive $15,000,000 lawsuit Geico filed against 411-PAIN. Then there was the indictment of Felix Filenger, Andrew Rubinstein, and Olga Spivak who were charged by the acting Attorney General for the Southern District of Florida with seven counts including:

  • conspiracy to commit racketeering activity;
  • conspiracy to commit mail fraud,
  • wire fraud, and health care fraud;
  • conspiracy to launder monetary instruments; and
  • four counts of making false statements relating to healthcare matters.

Now, Florida’s PIP laws are taking center stage in Tallahassee Florida where the legislature will determine the fate of Florida’s longstanding “No-Fault” auto insurance system.

What is PIP?

Florida’s Personal Injury Protection, or PIP law, is an automobile insurance system in which the person’s own insurance pays for their own injuries. This is in opposition to the more classic system of having the other person’s insurance pay for your medical bills (which still exists in Florida after PIP has been exhausted). In other words, PIP requires insurance companies to provide benefits to the named policyholder. PIP is also required to provide benefits to the policyholder ’s relatives who reside in the same household, those operating the insured’s vehicle, as well as pedestrians or cyclists who are struck by the insured’s vehicle.

PIP’s purpose is to provide immediate funds for medical treatment to those listed above who sustain bodily injuries in a motor vehicle accident. The law’s rationale is to allow accident victims immediate access to medical treatment by assigning the benefits of their policy over to the treating medical providers which are then reimbursed by insurance companies. As of right now, these funds are available regardless of which party is deemed at fault.

What is Being Proposed regarding PIP?

To date, there are several versions of the bill making their way through the Florida House and Senate that would effectively repeal Florida’s No-Fault statute and replace it with a requirement that Florida drivers purchase coverage for their own injuries, as well as, bodily injury liability insurance to provide for occupants injured in other vehicles.

Currently, Florida is one of several states who do not require drivers to purchase bodily injury liability coverage unless the driver has been in a previous accident or has been convicted of certain traffic-related offenses.

As is, the PIP statute provides $2,500 coverage in cases that do not result in an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) and up to $10,000 for EMC cases regardless of who is at fault when an accident occurs.

Under the proposed bill, a policyholder who is found responsible for causing an accident would be held liable for the damages sustained by the occupants of other vehicles involved.

These damages would include medical treatment, pain and suffering, legal fees, and property damage.

Bills in both chambers propose that motorists purchase higher amounts of bodily injury coverage as well as $10,000 for property damage, at a minimum.

Specifically, the House bill would mandate $25,000 in bodily injury coverage while the Senate bill would require $30,000.

Additionally, the Senate bill (titled SB 150), would also require a supplementary $5,000 for medical payments (“Medpay”) which would ensure medical facilities are not left uncompensated after treating accident victims. However, reimbursements would be covered at 100 percent. Whereas now, they are reimbursable up to 80 percent. The House bill has no such requirement.

Proponents of the bill, such as Dale Swope, acting president of the trial lawyers’ organization, says that “we logically should ensure people against the negligent damage we all may cause”.

Opponents are weary that the proposed laws will drive premiums up, and lead to less insured drivers on the road.

The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, a lobbyist group, specifically oppose the Senate’s Medpay provision because they believe the Medpay requirement amounts to an unneeded tax on certain Florida drivers.

Others predict premiums will drop in urban areas up to $81, while smaller metropolitan areas would potentially see an increase of up to $30, as reported in theSun Sentinel.

Progress on Proposed PIP Laws

So far, the House’s version of the new insurance law has been approved at the committee level and is pending a vote in the full chamber.

The Senate’s bill was debated and cleared by the chamber’s Banking and Insurance committee as well and is also pending a vote in the full chamber.

If passed, the new bill will take effect as early as January 1, 2019.

For more information regarding Florida’s PIP laws, see here:

What Are Florida PIP or No-Fault Benefits?

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Clearwater, FL 33756

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