MIAMI (CBS4) – In addition to rising fuel prices, drivers in the Sunshine State have to pay inflated insurance rates if they want to hit the road.
This year, some Florida lawmakers say they have to plan to cut insurance costs by overhauling Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
Law enforcement and politicians know insurance fraud by well-organized rings play a big role in the state’s above average auto insurance rates. But how to put the bad guys out of business has divided lawmakers, even as time is running out on the current session which wraps up on Friday.
State fraud investigators are constantly tracking staged accidents in which so-called ‘victims’ submit phony personal injury claims.
“Florida is one of the states that pays the most of insurance, mainly due to the fraud that we have in Florida,” said Jessica Turner with Direct General Insurance.
Fraudulent medical claims cost Florida about a billion dollars a year and that’s driven PIP coverage up by a whopping 66 percent.
While lawmakers agree that PIP needs to be changed to crack down on fraud, they can’t agree on what exactly those changes should be.
In the Senate, lawmakers want more detailed crash reports and more oversight over medical clinics and their operators. In the House, lawmakers want to cap medical payments, attorneys’ fees and class action suits.
Critics claim reforming the state’s ‘no fault’ coverage isn’t about cutting fraud.
“It’s really more aimed at increasing insurance company profits and limiting the access of the individual the person to meaningful healthcare for injuries arising out of an automobile accident,” said North Miami attorney Ken Dorchak.
The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that unless some major changes are made, insurance fraud will continue to increase as will the cost of auto insurance.
Florida is one of only two states which does not require bodily injury coverage. As a ‘no fault’ state, medical bills are paid by the insured’s coverage provider no matter who is charged in the accident.