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Friday, August 3, 2012

The Florida No fault PIP Law; A Brief Overview.

To start, let me summarize the New No-Fault insurance changes that are taking place in Florida for 2013.

Dr. Alan Himmel

A little history:  The Florida No fault law was enacted in the early 1970's to ensure drivers in the state of FL were protected if they were injured in a car accident.  It covers medical expenses as well as lost wages and it has a death benefit.  "No Fault" means that you are covered no matter who is at fault.  This is what the term no fault essentially means.  Whether you are a passenger, a driver or a pedestrian;  if you are injured in, near, or around a car, you are most likely covered under the Florida No Fault Law.  It was designed with both the Florida citizen in mind, and also for the purpose of reducing law suits.

The coverages have changed over the last four decades with little things, and a few years ago, the no fault law "sun-setted" (was removed completely), but then was quickly reenacted.  There has been $10k in benefits that would cover an individual for virtually any injury resulting from a car accident, including the most obvious, whiplash injury or disc herniation.  And, it covers all the occupants in a car if necessary.

Over the years, the insurance lobby has been fighting to get rid of this important insurance that everyone driving a car is required to have.  It turns out, by the way, that $10k in insurance doesn't go very far at all, especially since health care is so expensive now and the $10k dollar amount was decided upon decades ago in the 70's, when everything was much cheaper.  Most people are unaware that if you take a ride to the hospital in an ambulance, you are there for a few hours, and you are given one or two diagnostic tests like an MRI or CAT scan, your bills could easily top the $10,000 limit of coverage.

I have had many patients over the years who have come to my office a day after leaving the hospital, with absolutely no coverage left for any follow up care or physical therapy.  In other words, the hospital completely exhausted the patient's PIP policy, left them without any coverage, AND sent them out with instructions to follow up with their doctor.

Anyway, this year in 2012, your wonderful governor and the rest of the crew decided to make big changes to your insurance benefit.  Great!  So they increased the coverages to reflect the economy and average cost of health care, right?

No,  well I think you know where I am going with this.  The amount was not increased accordingly like it should have been.  In fact, your PIP insurance has essentially been cut by 75% down to $2500 for what they call non emergency injuries, (which by the way account for the majority of accident injuries).

 The law goes into effect on Jan 1, 2013.

What does this mean?  It means that if you go to the hospital after an accident, and the doctor sees your injury as a soft tissue complaint like a disc herniation or rotator cuff tear, for example,  you will leave the hospital with little if any coverage left for follow up care.  AND, your insurance premium will likely not change by much at all.  In other words, you will still be paying the same amount for your car insurance but now you will have only 25% of the coverage that you had before.  How anti-consumer is that?  You can all thank your governor, Rick Scott.  It was essentially his bill and one of his "greatest accomplishments" of his career as governor so far.