While the 2012 legislative session is five months away, lawmakers may consider changes to how consumers may pursue personal injury protection claims through their insurers. Better known as "PIP coverage", personal injury protection is essentially no-fault insurance that pays for policyholders' medical bills if they are injured in an auto accident. No fault insurance is essentially a trade off of benefits. For the right to have economic damages paid for regardless of fault, drivers are limited in pursuing non-economic damages.
PIP coverage applies to children, family members, as well as certain passengers who lack no-fault as long as they do not own a vehicle. Some drivers who drive company owned vehicles may also be covered by no-fault insurance. PIP also covers children who suffer injuries while riding on a school bus. PIP coverage can protect you if you are injured as a pedestrian or bicyclist in accidents involving a motor vehicle.
As such, PIP coverage protects people who don't have health insurance and helps to avoid lawsuits for costs stemming from minor injuries. Under Florida law, all drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 worth of PIP coverage. Florida's no-fault system has been in effect since 1972.
Legislators have heard a number of concerns regarding no-fault reform, including the prevalence of fraud, unjustified premium increases and opportunistic service providers. Nevertheless, lawmakers will have to consider several competing interests in next year's session, including:
- Hospitals that are concerned that insurers will be more inclined to underpay or unlawfully deny PIP claims. They believe changes to the current law could put health care providers at a significant disadvantage in collecting on such claims in court.
- Consumer groups that are concerned about insurers overinflating the "fraud tax", an estimated cost all drivers pay to compensate for fraudulent claims.
- Insurers that argue that the costs in covering PIP claims are out of control, and that something needs to be done in order to stay in business.
In the meantime, drivers who are injured in accidents can still be compensated under current laws. If you have questions about PIP coverage and how your insurance company will handle no-fault claims before the new law takes effect, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you.