Florida’s controversial new Personal Injury Protection (PIP) “no fault” law took effect on January 1, 2013. The objective of the law is to reduce insurance fraud which is a problem in the state and affects everyone in the form of higher premiums. No fault laws are used to establish insurance benefits that anyone can claim regardless of who is responsible for the injury. What follows is a critical analysis of the law’s key points.
In order to deliver on the promise of lower premiums, the new PIP law mandated a 10% reduction in PIP insurance rates effective this past October 2012 to be followed by another reduction of 25% in 2014. PIP rates account for roughly 20% of the auto insurance premium Floridians pay. However, the new law allows for insurers to petition for an exemption from the rate reductions and many insurers have done precisely that. Even though most of the law’s provisions only recently took this year, many insurers have already received an exemption from the big 2014 rate reduction mandate.
Consumers must file a claim for PIP benefits within 14 days of the accident or they forfeit insurance company reimbursement. Previously, there was no limit on when PIP benefits could be filed given that not all injuries stemming from accident will manifest themselves inside of that time limit. Also, the previous benefit cap of $10,000 is reduced to $2,500 unless a person gets medical certification from a specific list of medical professionals. Consumers also do not get the reduced PIP reimbursement of $2,500 unless they receive their first treatment within 14 days of the accident. The list of medical professionals who can certify a medical need for the higher $10,000 benefit cap no longer includes chiropractors. PIP benefits are also no longer cover chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, and acupuncture. People requiring or preferring such alternative forms of treatment will have to rely on their health insurance subject to deductibles and co-pays.
The new PIP law represents a major reform and affects all Floridians. How well the law succeeds at its target objective of reducing both fraud and auto insurance premiums will take years to verify. Medical providers excluded from PIP benefits (chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists) filed a motion in federal court to block the law’s implementation, but were denied their motion because they failed to prove irreparable harm under the new law and the public’s best interest in blocking the law. Given that, the new PIP reform is the law of the land in Florida.