On July 1 most of the new PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage changes went into effect. House Bill 119 was passed and signed into law amending 320.27 F.S. to try and dissuade fraudulent claims from being filed, but these new restrictions may combine to make collecting legitimate claims a lot more difficult. The changes include:
- A new antifraud task force and harsher penalties for fraud
- Insurance companies are able to delay payments for 90 days to investigate if they question the claim (they used to only be allotted 30 days)
- Some post-accident treatments are not covered anymore such as acupuncture and massage therapy
- New restrictions on potential attorney fees (restrictions on fees could become a disincentive for filing a civil lawsuit and make court access inaccessible to many people)
More changes will go into effect on January 1, 2013. The major change is that you must seek treatment from a licensed medical clinic within 14 days to receive any of your benefits. The full $10,000 policy is still required but unless you are diagnosed with an emergency medical condition by a licensed doctor you will only receive $2,500 of that. The second change will be that insurance companies are supposed to reduce their premiums by 10 percent in 2013 and 15 percent more by 2015.
So what does all this mean? Well, most auto accidents involve soft tissue damage which isn’t considered an emergency medical condition and so will not be eligible for full coverage. Soft tissue injuries’ costs can pile up very quickly though, and the smaller coverage may not carry you that far. Of course insurance premiums are also supposed to decrease, but the insurance companies will be watching and waiting for the effectiveness of these changes to show before lowering anything, so there will not be any immediate relief. There are also two main concerns: one is the provision which says you must submit a PIP claim from a licensed medical clinic. If you submit a claim from a nonlicensed clinic you could be subject to criminal penalties. This is aimed at stopping fraud, but what happens if you get into an accident out of town? It may prove difficult to find out which medical facilities are appropriately licensed, especially if you are injured and in pain. The approved list of medical facilities will not be released until January 1. The other concern is that unless you are in a life-threatening condition you can only recover 25 percent of the benefits you paid for and were originally slated to be a safety net to help injured persons recover and get back onto their feet. On average these reforms to PIP coverage will favor the insurance companies over the injured persons.
Know your rights before it is too late. If you are injured in an automobile or truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the Feldman Legal Group.. Call or email us about your accident and injuries now.