The new auto insurance law takes effect this Sunday and is the first overhaul to Florida's fraud riddled PIP coverage, which is what lawmakers are trying to change and insurance companies pushed for. But not all the changes are good for the consumer who s trurly injured say consumer rights advocates.
Insurance companies have long complained there is too much fraud they are forced to pay, leading to high insurance premiums for everyone. Results by various investigative agencies seem to confirm this, including by the FDLE.
Currently, driver are covered by $10,000 in personal injury protection, or PIP. When it was originally put in place making Florida a no fault state, it was thought that it would lead to lower incidents of fraud, but the opposite has happened.
Pain clinics, attorney referal services, and chiropractors have taken full advantage of people in an accident, often times seemingly to work together, encourage patients to return for sevreal months for treatment including massages, acupuncture and other treatments they often do not need. Once the PIP has been exhausted, they are pronounced healed or released by ther pain clinic doctor and their attorney says there is nothign else to be done.
Under the new law, it caps how much pain clicnic and chiropractors can get under your PIP at $2,500. Treatment must be sought within 14 days, and police are required to document everyone that was in the vehicle when it crashed. Massage therapy and acupuncture will no longer be covered under PIP. Only certain medical providers will be able to treat you under your PIP and there is new tougher licensing standards for medical clinics.
While the change, spearheaded by the state CFO, Jeff Attwater, many consumer advocates say that they agree change was needed, but the change failed to meet any of the provisions or desires of what voters and advocates had asked for, bending to the will of insurance companies.
Those consumer advicates say it gives accident victims less choice in medical providers since many will not be able to bill PIP anymore, and the few who will be able to will have long wait line to be treated. "Good customer service and bedside manners are still just as important, but often times, that is a fleeting concept in today's medical world" said Amy Gillthers, an advocate for Chocies.
She added this will result in crash victims having to tolerate rude clicnic and providers just to be treated under the new law so that insurance companies can save.
But the law also imposes changes on insurance companies. First, your PIP premium must be reduced by 10% by October 1 unless the insurance company can fully document why they can't, showing financinal audits and revenue sheets. Then by 2014, PIP premiums must go down another 25%. That was the trade off lawmakers made with insurance companies in giving them a change to PIP fraud.
That is still not good enough for some who say the insurance companies will just raise preiums on other parts of their policy to make up the difference.