The sentencing of two Lake Worth brothers a year ago this month provides a reminder that fraud did not end in Florida’s no-fault car insurance system despite 2012 changes that were supposed to fix it.
Janio and Jharildan “Harold” Vico were sentenced to nine year prison terms in what prosecutors said was a $3 million staged-accident scheme involving a sham clinic that offered unneeded or nonexistent treatment.
Or look at the undercover investigation of an accused fraud ring in Palm Beach and Martin counties chronicled on the A&E Network in 2015.
Reforms supported by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012 slashed nonemergency benefits to $2,500 and eliminated massage and acupuncture as supporters said it would eliminate up to $1 billion in fraud and bring down rates.
But Personal Injury Protection premiums have rocketed up more than 25 percent since the start of 2015 as the legislators heard testimony this week that drivers are paying some of the nation’s highest rates for a “failed experiment.”
Florida makes drivers to buy $10,000 worth of coverage for injuries in minor accidents regardless of who is at fault, but many drivers say they resent being forced to buy fraud-prone and inefficient medical coverage that is not necessary — it duplicates what they already have from Medicare or private health plans. Lobbyists for hospitals and doctors have argued for keeping PIP to make sure drivers have at least some coverage in an accident.
Ending the PIP requirement would save Florida drivers an average of $81 per car, or close to $1 billion a year, an actuarial report last fall showed. That was a net result after a projected increase in premiums for other coverage such as bodily-injury liability.