Client News

Sun-Sentinel: Senate PIP reform proposal attacks the problem of fraud, not consumer choice

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Florida’s PIP system is broken and must be reformed.

As executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network and a board member of consumer groups, I’ve spent considerable time and effort on PIP legislation.

This year, the Legislature is considering two bills that propose personal injury protection reform. These bills differ vastly.

The version passed by the House on Friday has been trumpeted as the solution to PIP fraud and a panacea for reducing auto insurance premiums.

In my view, it does nothing to curb fraud, but instead limits consumer choices.

The real motivation behind the House bill is making it easier for insurance companies to deny PIP payments and increase profits.

Under the House’s PIP proposal, auto accident victims are primarily funneled into overcrowded hospital ERs and their choice of medical care provider is severely limited. Requirements that accident victims receive care within seven days and any follow-up care is related to the initial diagnosis provide insurance companies leverage to deny PIP claims. Treatment for injury symptoms that manifest after the arbitrary seven days will have to be paid out of consumers’ pockets.

The Senate version, SB 1860 by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, will reduce fraud while protecting consumers. With support from a range of interests – insurers, medical providers and consumers – the Senate PIP reform proposal attacks the problem of fraud, not consumer choice.

It creates harsher penalties for perpetrators, better regulates medical providers and gives law enforcement the tools needed to get to the bottom of fraud cases.

FCAN urges the Legislature to get tough on criminals, not consumers, and pass Sen. Negron’s bill.

Bill Newton is executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network.

« Return to News