Florida Personal Injury Protection Cost Battle May Extend to Physician Referral Services

Sep 23, 2011

The following article was published in the Insurance Journal on September 23, 2011:

Florida PIP Protection Cost Battle May Extend to Physician Referral Services

By Michael Adams

Florida lawmakers are likely to consider whether to curb the use of accident clinic referral hotlines as part of a broader effort to reign in the costs of personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance.

Reforming the state’s automobile PIP insurance is already slated to be a top priority when the state Legislature convenes next January. Current state law, which requires drivers to carry $10,000 in uninsured motorist coverage, is being targeted due to fraudulent and questionable claims that have driven up medical and legal costs.

There is already building political support to change the coverage requirement, with Gov. Rick Scott and some insurance groups wanting to remove the mandate on drivers.

Lawmakers may target the use of accident clinic referral hotlines, which are used to direct injured drivers to certain medical clinics. Rep. Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) said he is planning to resurrect a bill he sponsored last year that would require the referral lines to disclose any ties they have to medical providers and attorneys.

Kriseman’s  bill would also require the hotlines to refer injured drivers to at least four different clinics. Currently, some of the state’s largest hotlines are associated with one medical clinic chain, including 1-800-ASK-GARY that directs injured drivers to one of its 50 clinics around the state.

“It’s not a referral service if there is only one provider,” said Kriseman.

The Florida bar association, which sets the rules for how attorneys can advertise their services, is also looking into the matter. Beyond advertising, the bar also wants to uncover any financial ties that may exist between the clinics and lawyers.

Find this article here:  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2011/09/23/217098.htm