BRENT KALLESTAD, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation designed to crack down on the fraud that leads to more expensive personal injury protection insurance required of all Florida drivers was filed by state Sen. Joe Negron on Monday.

Negron’s bill (SB 1860) targets fraud issues that have resulted in skyrocketing premiums in some metropolitan areas of Florida. Some estimates say the fraud costs Floridians $1 billion annually. In some neighborhoods in the TampaBay area and South Florida, the coverage can add several hundred dollars annually to auto insurance premiums, a cost that’s almost entirely the result of rampant fraud.

Two PIP proposals (HB 119 and HB 523) were filed by House members in November.

With so many stakeholders involved, lawmakers have been unsuccessful over the past 15 years in finding a fix for the PIP problem. Trial lawyers, insurance companies and a variety of health care providers are among those trying to recover some of their costs covered in car injuries.

Negron, R-Stuart, wants to close the licensure loophole that currently exists for clinics and establish a fee schedule for reimbursements. It would also modernize the current system for bill payment. His measure also would give hospitals priority standing in PIP claims. Hospitals are typically the first to provide care after an automobile accident.

Reforming the state’s PIP insurance is also one of Gov. Rick Scott’s key goals for the upcoming legislative session that begins Tuesday.

Just last week, state officials said a recent investigation in Miami-Dade County alone uncovered regulatory violations in 43 of 49 pain clinics, where virtually all of their business was treating automobile accident victims. However, during those checks, investigators witnessed only 17 patients while employees at some clinics reported they had never seen a patient.

PIP was adopted in 1972 to provide benefits in a timely manner for a person injured in an automobile accident regardless of who was at fault, but schemers have turned Florida into the No. 1 state for staged accidents. The legislation provides that a driver’s insurance company pay up to $10,000 to cover medical bills and lost wages after an accident.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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