The bill aimed at fighting staged accidents gets approval


17The House’s insurance committee today approved the bill that aims to reduce staged accidents as well as other fraudulent PIP claims.  The PIP pays a portion of the medical costs to policyholders irrespective of who is at fault.  This was basically intended to protect Floridians who don’t have health insurance and also to avoid lawsuits and associated medical costs due to minor injuries.

However, the coalition groups claim that it has been misused by fraudsters who exaggerate injuries in order to hike up the claims or stage accidents.  This has been the prime reason for a hike in auto insurance rates as well as an increase in the number of accidents.  The Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater along with the representatives of the coalition and the others have come together to back the legislation HB 1411 and SB 1930 in order to reduce auto insurance fraud.  As per the bill, the police reports will include the names and addresses of those passengers who were present in the vehicle that was involved in the accident.  This has been done to prevent false claims of people being involved in the accident.

As per the Horner’s Bill, HB 967 the attorney’s fees are limited to $10,000 and $50,000 for the class action suits and insurers can rightfully question policyholders as well as hospital under oath.  Here the policyholders will also have to cooperate with the insurers if they wish to avail the PIP benefits, where policyholders will have to agree to undergo a physical as well as a mental examination in case the insurers request it.

Rep. Mike Horner, the bill sponsor has stated that auto insurance coverage must ensure that claims are paid but the legal fees should not be high.  He also stated that the insurance fraud is quite rampant involving huge sums of money but deals only with very few PIP attorneys that are corrupt and that seems to be creating the problem.  Hence he wanted to involve all the stakeholders to address the problem and ensure that the bill strikes a fair deal in protecting the interests of the insurers and consumers.

Insurers have stated that they often get sued while verifying claims and this was driving up the costs again.  The insurers have about 30 days to settle the PIP claims and if the payments are not made the policyholders as well as their attorneys must warn the company before taking legal action and they could file a suit after another 30 days they added.