Tallahassee, Fla. -
With Florida being a no-fault state, PIP is part of the mandatory coverage for every vehicle, but lawmakers in Tallahassee are trying to get rid of PIP, saying it creates higher premiums and fraud.
State lawmakers, including Gov. Rick Scott, CFO Jeff Atwater, and a major part of the state's legislature, support getting rid of PIP insurance in Florida and support moving to a liability state.
Under the minimum PIP coverage, Personal Injury Protection, regardless of whose fault the accident is, your own insurance covers your medical expenses up to $10,000. And it originally was supposed to save insured drivers a lot of money on their premiums, but has grown into Florida being one of the largest states with auto accident fraud in the nation, resulting in higher premiums.
While most lawmakers and the public support getting rid of PIP, doctors, chiropractors, attorney-referral services and a host of other medical-related professions, worked together to lobby Tallahassee to keep it.
Statistically speaking, since PIP was introduced, the rate of accidents has gone down, with some arguing better driving standards and rules. However the dollar amount of claims has skyrocketed to nearly double what it was in only 2005 even though the total number of claims went down. Federal statistics also show less people died on the roads and highways last year, only 32,540, the lowest its been since 1980.
Many put the blame on trial lawyers and questionable medical facilities that make a healthy living on helping those in an accident collect big checks, despite having relatively minor injuries.
The 2012 legislative season will have three competing bills trying to change PIP. One, supported by lawyers and medical providers, would basically keep the status quo, by giving prosecutors more resources to fight fraud, but does not significantly change the PIP laws now in place.
Another would would put limits on attorney fees, and allow healthcare workers to be examined under oath, something not currently done. Health care providers only need to submit what they say they did in written reports.
The last proposed bill would scrap the PIP no-fault system altogether, and put in place a liability system that requires each driver to obtain $25,000 of bodily injury liability and $10,000 in emergency hospital coverage. Under this system, the driver at fault bears the liability and the at fault driver's insurance would be responsible. This is the most common type in the United States.