Recently, Governor Rick Scott unsurprisingly revised the current PIP laws, along with the help of the Florida House and Senate. Under the new law, a person injured in a car accident in Florida must seek medical treatment within fourteen (14) days of the accident, otherwise they waive their ability to use the PIP coverage for health care. The pro-insurer changes to the law still require Florida drivers to purchase and maintain $10,000.00 in PIP medical coverage, but unless you can overcome multiple hurdles, injured drivers will actually only ever get to use a quarter of the PIP coverage they pay for, or $2,500.00.
How to get every PIP Dollar
In order to get the full $10,000.00 in PIP benefits that Florida driver are mandated to pay for as part of their required policy, an injured motorist or passenger must go to the hospital or a doctor within fourteen (14) days and then needs to be determined to have an “emergency medical condition.” An “emergency medical condition” suggests injuries that are life-threatening. Interestingly enough, the average hospital visit is between $4,000.00 to $8,000.00, so not too much coverage will remain if an injured driver is deemed to have an emergency medical condition.
Not an Emergency Medical Condition? You get a Quarter.
Alternatively, an injured driver/passenger could skip the hospital and go to his or her chiropractor or medical doctor, but would only get $2,500.00 from their insurance policy to apply toward medical coverage, even though the insured is required to pay for $10,000.00 in PIP coverage. Parties of interest in reducing what the insurance companies will have to pay out after a claim is made were successful in having Governor Rick Scott make sure that treatment rendered by massage therapists and acupuncturists for traumatic soft tissue injuries are no longer available. Many medical experts agree that it takes about two weeks (14 days) after a car accident to feel the effect of soft tissue injuries. With the fourteen (14) day window to seek treatment, many Florida drivers are going to be left paying for their own medical care out of pocket, via private health insurance, or at the expense of tax payers for those who are unable to pay out of pocket and carry no health insurance.
Your Insurance Company is Smiling
Although the current PIP laws have multiple parts within it to combat insurance fraud, including jail time for those that commit fraud, Governor Scott and insurance companies said that the above changes were needed to reduce fraud and lower driver’s insurance premiums. Obviously, the less the insurance companies have to pay with these changes means that your premiums will obviously go down, right? Well, if the insurance companies decide to keep your insurance premiums the same, or even raise them, all they are required to do is write an excuse as to why. It looks as if though it is the insurance companies that are committing fraud here.
Will the PIP Reform Benefit Anyone?
On March 16, 2012, Journalist Lisa Rab of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times wrote an article titled “Five Ways the PIP “Reform” Bill Fails to Help Consumers.” Here is her five point list: 1) “It’s a big wet kiss to the insurance industry;” 2) “People with legitimate injuries may run out of coverage;” 3) “It will almost certainly create legal battles over the meaning of “medical emergency;” 4) “It doesn’t eliminate unscrupulous accident clinics;” and 5) “It doesn’t guarantee lower insurance premiums.”
What’s your opinion?