HB 119, passed by the Florida legislature in March, was signed into law by Governor Scott on May 4th. This 67-page bill is being touted as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) reform that will yield savings to vehicle owners on their no-fault car insurance premiums, but the true cost may come not in savings to consumers but in a decrease in benefits paid to people injured in car accidents.
Decrease in Insurance Premiums…Maybe
The new law, which goes into effect in July, requires insurance companies to lower insurance rates, with a 10% reduction by October 1 and a 25% reduction by January of 2014, as compared to rates as of July 1 of this year.
However, this requirement falls somewhat short of a legal mandate, allowing insurance companies to not lower rates provided they explain why they didn’t.
Decrease in Insurance Benefits…Definitely
The idea behind the “reform” is that these measures will decrease insurance fraud, and the insurance companies will be able to pass their savings on to the consumer. It remains to be seen how effective this will be.
You’ll know in October when you receive your insurance bill and can see for yourself if your premiums have been lowered and by how much. In the meantime, we do know for sure about some of the other changes made by the law and how they will affect people injured in car accidents. Some of these changes include:
- Medical benefits can be denied if you fail to receive “initial services and care” within 14 days after the accident
- Benefits can be denied if you refuse to submit to an examination under oath about your claim
- Your $10,000 in PIP benefits will be capped at $2,500 unless your injuries meet the definition in the bill of an “emergency medical condition”
Your right to receive payment for medical services may be in jeopardy under this new scheme. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, contact an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you take the proper steps to protect your rights to receive the medical benefits that you paid for with your insurance premiums.
In Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and Port St. Lucie, contact Fetterman & Associates – The Law Team at 561-845-2510 for immediate assistance.