Blog: PIP Bills Stall in the Senate
Apr 5, 2011
The following article was posted to the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s House Keys blog on April 5, 2011:
PIP Bills Stall in the Senate
By Julie Patel
Legislation aimed to fight personal injury protection insurance fraud stalled in the Senate’s insurance committee today after major changes were proposed to the first bill and more than 30 people asked to speak about it.
Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the committee, said there wouldn’t be enough time to hear from everyone on the bill, SB 1930, by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, vice chairman, asked Bogdanoff to meet with and work out differences with Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who asked for major changes, by the committee’s next meeting in order to improve the odds that the legislation will be approved before the end of the lawmaking session in about a month.
Richter sponsored the other PIP bill, SB 1694, which the committee didn’t get to. Its companion, HB 967 by Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, cleared two House committees and got another boost recently.
John Askins, who heads the state’s Division of Insurance Fraud, told legislators today that the number one thing needed in the state to fight fraud is a cap on attorneys’ fees, a key provision in Richter and Horner’s proposed legislation.
The legislation was backed on Monday by the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, a lobbying group for some of the state’s largest insurers, Progressive, State Farm and Allstate.
Some consumer advocates oppose caps because they’re concerned it could create an advantage for insurers, which have more resources to fight claims.
But Michael Carlson, who is with the Personal Insurance group, said many lawsuits over PIP coverage are between health care providers and insurers and both have money to fight claims. “What results in the current PIP system are hundreds of lawsuits over modest amounts which can turn into millions in fees for attorneys,” he wrote in an email. “Moreover, if there is systematic abuse by an insurer, OIR has regulatory tools, including costly market conduct examinations and fines.”