PIP Bill Won't Affect Injured People, Former Insurance Fraud Director Says
All Florida drivers are required to carry PIP insurance, which covers them for up to $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages if they're in an accident. The bill passed by the Legislature this month limits the medical benefits to $2,500 unless a doctor decides the injured driver has an "emergency medical condition."
Consumer advocates and trial lawyers have said the new rules could prevent injured people from getting longer-term care and won't guarantee lower insurance premiums. The Pulp outlined many of the bill's flaws here. But Askins, with his decades of experience fighting fraud, has a different view of the legislation. Here's an excerpt of what he said from his home in Tallahassee:
Q: What do you think of the bill?
A: "I do believe it's the most significant that I can remember. [However], I thought it was imperative that they put a cap on attorney's fees [which the Legislature did not do]. Trial lawyers are too powerful."
Q: Will it shut down car accident clinics?
A: "It's not going to eliminate these fraudulent clinics, unfortunately. It's just going to reduce the amount that they can steal. These people are like roaches -- they just come back. They'll find ways to get around it, but at least they have been neutralized somewhat."
Q: What about the requirement limiting medical benefits to $2,500 unless it's a medical emergency?
A: "I'm not sure what that means, but you better be bleeding or have a broken bone... I personally do not believe this new legislation will adversely affect even one injured person."
Q: What if tests reveal an injury but the $2,500 was used up by the tests?
A: "If you were really injured, what would you do? You'd go to the emergency room... You don't go to these fly-by-night clinics. It's not going to affect a really injured person."
Q: [The bill makes a 10 percent reduction in PIP insurance rates optional. Insurance companies can refuse to lower the rate if they provide a written excuse]. What if insurance companies refuse to lower their rates?
A: "It remains to be seen how that works out... It's incumbent on the insurance commissioner to say 'no.' ...[It's] not a perfect bill, but it's a big step in the right direction."
"Not that insurance companies are perfect. They're out for profit and you have to watch them."