Broad bill aimed at fighting staged accidents OKed

Published: 2011-03-24 14:25:14
Author: Julie Patel

  A bill that aims to reduce staged car crashes and inflated claims for personal injury protection insurance was approved Wednesday by a panel of lawmakers.

PIP pays medical bills for policyholders injured in car crashes regardless of which driver is at fault. It’s intended to protect Floridians without health insurance and to avoid lawsuits and the costs associated with them for minor injuries.

But state leaders say PIP, or no-fault insurance, is being abused by some groups and clinics, which can drive up automobile insurance premiums.

The House's insurance committee approved a bill, HB 1411, that includes recommendations supported by representatives of insurers, attorneys and consumer advocates.

For instance, one provision would require police to do detailed reports of car crashes that include all names of passengers, create new requirements for clinics that treat policyholders and provide more time to insurers to investigate claims.

The bill would also repeal case law that effectively excuses policyholders from attending their insurer's examination under oath if they have a good reason.

Provisions in the bill drawing fire would allow an insurer to give a premium discount to policyholders who agree to use the company’s preferred health care providers. Some say that could give the insurers an advantage in claims disputes that go to court.