Florida Republican Governor, Rick Scott, promised to lower auto insurance rates by lowering Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. In fact, it was Scott’s top legislative priorities this year. Instead, rates are rising, a new study shows. Florida auto accidents that involve injuries often involve insurance claims. That’s when Personal Injury Protection benefits, or PIP, kick in to cover medical bills up to $10,000. It was the opinion of Governor Scott that too much fraud was being committed using PIP claims, so he set out to reduce or get rid of PIP coverage. He argued the move would save Florida drivers money. It hasn’t worked. Now, early returns show PIP rates have increased in at least half of the cases reviewed. This week marked the deadline for insurers to file at least a 10 percent reduction in 2013 PIP rates under Scott’s new law or make a case to regulators why they won’t. Most of the 100 filings made it in under the deadline and are under review. So far, at least half of the filings approved by regulators show an increase in PIP rates up to 26.3 percent! Scott’s response? “Increases would have been higher without the reforms.” The executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network, Bill Nelson, sees it differently. He was quoted in a Palm Beach Post article “I’m sure the excuses from the insurance companies are very creative. Bottom line, consumers have lost benefits and many will see premium increases, not decreases.” Opponents of Florida’s new PIP reduction law say the move was simply an attempt to favor insurance companies, not responsible Florida drivers. Insurers will still collect premiums for the state-mandated $10,000 PIP coverage but they will pay their customers fewer benefits. For example, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may require therapeutic massage or acupuncture as part of your treatment. That PIP coverage is gone. The new law also limits non-emergency care to $2,500. That means you’ll have to go to an ER for treatment, even if it’s not actually life-threatening treatment. Will these changes in PIP affect you? Here’s a list of insurers who, so far, have been approved for PIP rate increases:
- Florida Farm Bureau (8% increase)
- MGA Insurance Co. (3.9% increase)
- Agency Insurance Co. (26.3% increase)
The changes have not helped consumers, and in many cases have made things worse. In fact, Florida legislators have been trying to fix PIP for a decade now and it’s just too broken. There is, however, a solution in the way of mandatory Bodily Injury (BI) coverage. Most states require BI coverage these days to eliminate the problems with PIP coverage. It’s time Florida followed suit. If you need free advice or help navigating your Florida auto accident claim, contact any of our offices in Miami, Plantation or West Palm Beach by calling 1-800-FL-Legal (355-3425) or visiting rubensteinlaw.com.