What is the New Florida PIP Law?
New Florida PIP Law: A Victory for The Car Insurance Companies
Florida’s new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law HB 119, passed by a slim margin in the Senate on March 10, 2012. The new PIP law is hailed as a victory for insurance companies due to several provisions placing limits on the amount of PIP benefits, litigation and monies paid out during claims.
These personal injury law suits are blamed Florida governor Rick Scott and auto insurance companies believe that personal injury protection lawsuits are the cause of increased insurance rates. Florida is a no-fault state and requires all drivers to carry the basic PIP insurance with limits of $10,000.00 in coverage but lacks outlined parameters on types of medical treatments covered or attorney’s fees limits. This system is, according to insurers, full of loopholes and flaws and was in need of reform. The old system allowed for “excessive medical treatment” and “opportunities for unwarranted litigation”.
What does the new PIP law provide for car accident victims?
The new bill provides strict and rather biased definitions of what constitutes medical treatments and covered injuries. Accident victims now must seek medical treatment within a narrow 14 day (two week) window from the accident and only from specified licensed medical physicians. Acceptable treatment providers include emergency services determined by a physician, osteopath, dentist, physician’s assistant or registered nurse practitioner. Chiropractor visits are limited to $2,500 and can only be sought after a referral from an acceptable health care provider.
The new law excludes massage therapists and acupuncturists, which were previously covered under the old PIP law. The stringent nature of the new Florida PIP law greatly cuts the funds available for those injured in auto accidents and is worrisome to many consumer protection groups. Also, the law greatly limits the types of treatment covered under PIP. Those who seek a more holistic, less intrusive type of treatment are left out by the new law, a disconcerting reality to many. Florida Auto accident victims will be forced to rely on their health insurance rather than the $10,000 of medical benefits they were previously entitled to receive.
The new bill contains provisions for the reduction of consumer rates, which seems like a victory for consumers. The bill entails a plan for insurers to roll back rates 10% by October 1, 2013 and 25% by January 1, 2014 or to provide a “detailed explanation” as to why the rates were not reduced. However, the proposed rate reduction does not seem to equal out in policy premiums, a questionable fact which has left many consumer advocates puzzled. Furthermore, PIP accounts for a relatively small percentage of a total premium, which makes the 25% reduction rather insignificant.