By Rick Krieseman, Florida House of Representatives
Good morning everyone, and welcome to July 1, 2012.
Also, welcome to the effective date of the "Great Insurance Company Relief Act", otherwise known as HB199, the PIP bill.
Since none of the media felt the story was important enough to either print comments from the press conference, or broadcast the comments, please find the text of my comments below:
Good morning. I am Representative Rick Kriseman, and I represent District 53 here in Pinellas County. Thank you all for coming today.
We are here today because, the auto insurance bill which passed the legislature this year and was signed into law by Governor Scott, HB119, goes into effect July 1, 2012.
The impact of this bill on Floridians will be dramatic.
I want to begin by letting you know that I’ve tried, and tried, to get Governor Scott to reassure the public about some of the problems in this bill, which I covered in my presentation and which I will again make mention of in a moment.
His inaction and inability to really understand and explain this bill is why I felt it necessary to help educate my constituents about this.
I want to begin by talking about the motivation of the bill sponsor, Rep. Jim Boyd. He told us that this bill was needed because fraud was rampant and we needed to reduce the cost of auto insurance, two very laudable objectives.
Unfortunately, this bill will achieve neither.
Instead of significantly decreasing fraudulent claims, which all of us would support, this bill perpetrates a fraud on Floridians, by charging them the same amount for their auto insurance, while providing them with less coverage.
For example, if you’re involved in an accident and don’t go to see a doctor within 14 days of the accident, despite the fact that you have paid your monthly premiums for coverage, none of the treatment you receive will be paid by your auto insurance.
Even though you are paying for $10,000.00 in PIP benefits, if you initially treat with a chiropractor, or if the doctor you first see doesn’t diagnose you with an Emergency Medical Condition, your auto insurance company will only be required to pay $2,500.00 in PIP benefits.
And that includes your right to lost wages.
Let me explain these issues a little differently, as these are the most important things Floridians need to understand about this law.
First, your ability to choose who you treat with and the type of treatment you receive, has now been limited.
Second, if you do not seek medical treatment within 14 days, your insurance will not pay for any of your medical treatment.
And lastly, if your doctor does not diagnose you with an emergency medical condition, your insurance company will only pay for $2,500.00 of your treatment, despite the fact that you paid for $10,000.00 in coverage.
So ask yourselves this – who would you rather have deciding what medical providers you treat with, you or your insurance company.
Who is a better judge of when you need to see a doctor, you or your insurance company.
Who would you rather have deciding what medical tests or follow up care you need, your doctor or your insurance company.
Under this bill, leadership in the House and Senate, along with the Governor, have decided that it is your insurance company who should make these decisions, NOT you or your doctor.
The second fraud that this bill perpetrates on Floridians is that its passage will result in everyone’s auto insurance rates going down.
First, it’s important to note that leadership and the Governor removed the language from the bill which would have mandated a 25% rate reduction.
Second, because the mandatory language was removed, auto insurance companies are already notifying Floridians that rates are going up. After this bill has been in effect for a little while, the carriers MIGHT reduce their rates – but only back to where they are now.
And if they don’t reduce their rates, they’ll blame it on attorneys for running up legal fees with the filing of PIP suits.
The last thing Floridians ought to know about this bill, which is, unfortunately, typical for Tallahassee, is how this bill became law.
This past legislative session was concluded on March 9, 2012. When session ended for the day on March 8, 2012, it didn’t appear as though an auto insurance bill would be voted on before the end of the session, as the differences between the House’s bill, HB 119 and the Senate’s bill, SB 1860, were too great.
However, at approximately 3:00 in the morning, a group of people, known only to the Governor, those in House and Senate leadership, and those in the insurance industry, met and reached a compromise.
So, at approximately 5:00 p.m. on the last day of session, questioning and debate over this bill, with completely new provisions, began.
So what happens when legislation is written in the middle of the night, with limited questioning, debate, and vetting?
You get poorly drafted legislation that creates bad policy.
For example, the bill goes into effect on July 1, 2012. Under the bill, a medical provider is not eligible to receive payment under PIP unless they are a clinic licensed with AHCA or are exempt under 627.736(5)(h).
The problem is, the exemptions stated under 627.736(5)(h) don’t become effective until January 1, 2013 6 months later.
The bill also states that in order to become eligible for the full $10,000 in PIP benefits, there must be a diagnosis that the injured person had suffered an emergency medical condition. It also says that if there is a diagnosis that an emergency medical condition does NOT exist, the injured person is limited to $2,500.00.
What the bill doesn’t say is what happens if the medical provider doesn’t say either? Is there $10,000.00 or $2,500.00 in coverage?
These are only two examples of problems with this bill, but there are many others. And because the bill was so poorly written, it is certain to result in more litigation, which just gives the insurance companies ANOTHER reason to raise rates.
Representative Rick Kriseman, FL Dist. 53