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Florida CFO Atwater says new law sets up fresh challenges in fight against PIP fraud

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, whose office enforces the personal injury protection (PIP) law that took effect on July 1, says that provisions to reduce fraud will take time to take effect. Drivers should see some benefit. Just how soon and what to degree will become known over time.

The new law prohibits payments for massage or acupuncture treatments and restricts the payout for non-emergency treatment of accident-related injuries to $2,500. That should make a dent in the rampant PIP fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous clinics.

The law also requires more details in accident reports, which could reduce the number of staged accidents that are designed to generate fake PIP claims.

Will the provisions of the PIP law work? “We will know the answer to that in the next 12 to 24 months,” Atwater told the Orlando Sentinel.

As part of the new law, Atwater is creating a group to fight PIP fraud that self-funds investigations.  The money could come from the insurance and medical companies, and Atwater said fundraising details are still being worked out. He wants the group to pay for and share technology or data rather than fund prosecutions.

“That’s a bit of a pressure issue,” he said. “You don’t buy justice.”

Auto insurance companies are waiting to see how much the new law and new group can accomplish. The new law has an Oct. 1 deadline by which auto insurers must cut premiums 10 percent or give reasons why that’s not possible.  On Jan. 1, 2014, insurers must cut 25 percent or explain to the state why not.

“I really believe that the expectation that a 10 percent reduction and to follow with a 25 percent reduction is achievable,” Atwater told the Sentinel. “And even if it falls slightly short of those benchmarks, the people of Florida deserve that relief.”

Posted 12:11 PM

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