Dump Fla.’s no-fault law? PIP supporter pushes back on Post story

The Palm Beach Post’s story posted today about drivers fed up with the state’s requirement to buy $10,000 in no-fault Personal Injury Protection coverage — on the grounds it is a costly, fraud-prone mess that needlessly duplicates Medicare or other health insurance — quickly kicked up response from the law’s supporters.

Driver Dick Natalizio says PIP is a 'joke' that should be repealed.

Driver Dick Natalizio says PIP is a ‘joke’ that should be repealed.

In the spirit of welcoming healthy public discussion, here is a response from Cris Boyar, who says he is a Coral Springs attorney who represents medical providers and insureds when insurers deny claims or improperly reduce payments.  He also serves as executive director of Floridians for Fair Insurance, a nonprofit based in Fort Lauderdale:

Florida should keep PIP insurance which provides up to $10,000 in medical bills, lost earning capacity, and loss of household services as well as $5,000 in death benefits.    Not only does PIP cover the named insured but it also covers household residents, passengers, and  pedestrians injured in a crash.  Health insurance only covers the named insured.  These benefits are paid without regard to fault.  Medical benefits are paid within 30 days of the claim being submitted.  Disability payments are paid every two weeks.  Most people with a good driving record pay less than $7.00 a month for this coverage.

 

“As for saving money by eliminating PIP, that is speculation because no one knows how much more we will pay in increased premiums for bodily injury coverage, health insurance and taxes.  If PIP stopped paying for medical bills then health insurance would have to pay these bills resulting in higher premiums.  If an uninsured injured person goes to a tax subsidized hospital with no ability to pay, then that hospital would make less money and would seek more money from the county which will pass the cost onto the tax payers.

 

“As it relates to fraud, there is no evidence there is a higher level of fraud in PIP claims than in Medicare claims.  PIP insurers are making record profits and there is no shortage of PIP insurers in Florida.  In fact, if Florida goes to a mandatory bodily injury system, the fraud where two criminals pretend to be in an accident to collect PIP benefits would be converted to staged accidents where criminals would cause accidents with innocent victims in an effort to collect pain and suffering damages.  Criminals are not going to stop being criminals.

 

“If PIP is eliminated then tens of thousand of jobs would be lost in the medical and insurance industries.  Small insurance companies and their agents will never be able to compete with big insurance companies and they would likely go out of business or downsize.

 

“Not only will big insurers eliminate thousands of jobs in their claims processing centers, but they will be able to avoid paying claims until after the person is finished treating.  This can take months or years.  If the insurer does not make a fair offer to settle a claim, which is common, then there will be more lawsuits filed straining an already overloaded judicial system. Medical providers will have to wait years to collect payment for the services rendered which will drive up the cost of medical care for everyone.  Some patients will find themselves in collection for not paying their medical bills, resulting in damage to their credit rating.

 

“Lastly, personal injury lawyers will benefit greatly from the elimination of PIP.  Lawyers do not take a fee on the first $10,000 in benefits paid by PIP.  If Florida eliminates PIP insurance then those lawyers start collecting fees on dollar one.

 

“Eliminating PIP is not the answer as it will only result in big insurance companies and personal injury lawyers making more money at the expense of hard working Floridians.”

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