In December 2015, Florida Representative Bill Hager filed a proposal to repeal the Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law relating to auto accidents. In early 2015, it seemed that the law was unlikely to change after a report released by the Office of Insurance Regulation showed that the rate of fraud in PIP claims had ceased. According the report, since the law went into place, the number of personal injury protection claims decreased, but the number of other types of claims like bodily injury and uninsured motorist increased. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said at the time that he hoped that legislators would give it more time to see the full effect of the law. By December, things had changed, and even Atwater seems to support the idea of repealing the law.
What is PIP?
The Personal Injury Protection law was implemented in 2013. The law requires all Florida motorists to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury coverage, which would cover medical benefits after an auto accident even if the driver was at-fault. The law requires injured parties to seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident, a major change from the previous law that contained no time limit on medical treatment. If medical treatment is first sought after the 14 day period, benefits will be limited to $2,500 for most injured parties; only those with an “emergency medical condition” are eligible for the previous higher dollar limit of $10,000.
This insurance was adopted as a compromise between pure no-fault insurance, where an injured motorist would receive benefits regardless of who was at fault, and a customary suit for damages, where the at-fault party would be liable for all damages resulting from the accident. PIP falls in the middle: each party’s own insurance covers initial medical expenses and lost income irrespective of which party caused the accident. Legislators indicated that the purpose of the new law was to restore no-fault car insurance to its original purpose: to allow injured motorists to seek emergency treatment immediately after an accident. PIP was also intended to reduce the number of crash-related lawsuits and ultimately lower insurance rates. In fact, the bill contained a requirement that insurance companies reduce personal injury premiums by at least 10 percent as of October 1, 2013, and by 25 percent by 2014.
Although legislators maintained throughout 2015 that time was needed to assess the full impact of changes, Atwater’s spokeswoman Ashley Carr stated in December last year that such time has passed. Carr said that two years after the passage of the PIP law, insurance companies should be able to produce evidence showing whether rates are coming down or not, and if consumers are not benefiting from the relief intended under the law, then it is time to repeal PIP. The new proposal would eliminate required personal injury coverage, instead replacing it with a minimum of property-damage and bodily-injury liability coverage. No repeal has happened as of yet, but auto accident insurance requirements may change as early as this year.
Have You Been Involved in an Auto Accident?
If you or a loved one is dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident in Ocala or surrounding areas, let John Piccin help. We have handled hundreds of auto accident cases and are prepared to answer your questions, negotiate with insurance companies, and even make home or hospital visits to ensure you get the support you need. Call us at 352-581-6174 or contact us online today.