In early 2012, Florida Legislature made sweeping changes to the Florida’s no-fault automobile insurance law at the urging of Governor Rick Scott. Most significant were changes to the personal injury protection (PIP) component of your coverage that protects you should you be the victim of an auto accident. While all Florida drivers will still be required to carry PIP coverage, the new law signifacantly alter how you will be able to seek and obtain medical care for your injuries following an accident.
New Time Limit
Unlike the current law which allows a patient to seek treatment for injuries following an accident with no time frame, the new law only gives a patient 14 days to file a claim to use their PIP coverage. If you do not file a claim within this time frame you loose your right to use PIP coverage to cover your health care.
Changes in Coverage and Treatment
While you will continue to be required to carry and pay for insurance premiums for a full $10,000 of PIP coverage, in certain situations you may only be entitled to up to a $2,500 reduced benefit. The new law requires you have a determination of an “emergency medical condition” to gain access to the previously normal $10,000 in PIP coverage. This could cause problems as a normal hospital visit can run through your benefits quickly if there in only $2,500 in benefits now available. You still have direct access to a chiropractor however PIP coverage no longer covers massage therapy and accupuncture. This also could be an issue as alternative medicine is no longer redaly available to auto accident victims. This could unfortunetly lead to more people seeking drugs and pain management first.
Impact to Your Insurance Premiums
While the Legislature’s stated goal of these benefit reductions is to attack fraud and reduce costs, there is no requirement within the new law that inusurance companises reduce costs for these newly reduced benefits. Carriers were asked to consider a 10% reduction in premiums by their rate fillings in October 2012 however, the majority chose not to comply. You may want to monitor your renewal premiums closely this year, as we have heard from several patients their rates actually have increased despite the insurance companies not having to pay for the same coverage.
When The New Law is to Take Effect
The major changes take effect January 1, 2013. You can expect a lot of controversy over the interpretation of this new law because of its vagueness and because it has potential to decrease your PIP coverage by 75%.