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PIP repeal legislation set for Senate committee hearing this week

Some say doing away with PIP will make car insurance fraud worse.

Legislation to revamping the state’s Personal Injury Protection law is set to be heard Tuesday in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

Committee chairman Tom Lee is sponsoring the bill (SB 378) that repeals PIP in favor of mandating bodily liability coverage. State Rep. Erin Grall is sponsoring a similar bill (HB 771).

Lee’s legislation would require drivers carry at least $25,000 in liability for the death or injury of one person in a crash and $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people in a crash. There is still a $10,000 coverage mandate for property damage.

His bill provides $5,000 in optional medical payments and includes a death benefit of at least $5,000.

Fraudulent claims are a major cost driver of high car insurance rates in the state. The attempts by lawmakers to reform PIP in 2012 failed to greatly reduce fraud or lower insurance rates.

Under the current PIP law, the insured person can get up to $10,000 for an emergency condition and up to $2,500 for a non-emergency condition. Massage and acupuncture were excluded as covered medical benefits in 2012.  

Saul Acosta manages Kaizen Medical Consulting, a medical staffing company, in Miami. He said he opposes Lee’s bill because while there’s PIP fraud now, doing away with PIP will make the fraud worse.

“Say you and I are in an accident and we go get lawyers,” he said. “We don’t have the $10,000 minimum PIP coverage for damages. Now a lawyer representing a client can file a lawsuit against the insurance company for $80,000-$90,000.” 

Acosta said he believes replacing PIP liability coverage will lead to more more staging of car accidents. 

“If two unscrupulous individuals want to stage an accident now, all we can get from a clinic now is $2,000 at most,” he said. “In other words, we go to the clinic and they give us the $2,000 and that’s it. But now imagine what would happen if you take PIP away.”

Under PIP, there’s a limit on filing lawsuits. With liability coverage, the driver who causes the accident is responsible for paying for the damages. Acosta said he’s concerned about insurance companies having to pay more because of fraudulent claims.

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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