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This op-ed originally ran in the Tampa Tribune.
Personal injury protection insurance has operated under a no-fault system in Florida since the 1970s. It has come under increased scrutiny and criticism of its high premiums, rising costs and widespread fraud as trial lawyers and health care providers take advantage of the failing system.
The Legislature attempted reforms in 2003 and, thankfully, included a provision to sunset the no-fault system in 2007. Now all we need to do is let those provisions kick in.
But the Florida House and Senate are considering pushing back the sunset provision and continuing the high cost of auto insurance. Despite independent data documenting the massive flaws that continue with PIP insurance, our legislators say that they need more time to study it. This is disingenuous at best.
The Legislature's own Select Committee on Automobile Insurance reported in 2003 that "problems with the no-fault system … include fraud, abuse, inappropriate medical treatment, inflated claims, inadequate compensation to victims, increased premiums and the proliferation of lawsuits."
Recently the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance report found that no-fault fraud referrals were on the rise and that fewer than 25 percent of them were being investigated. That same report found that thousands of corrupt medical clinics could continue to operate.
Independent studies from the Insurance Research Council and the National Insurance Crime Bureau document these same issues and indicate that things have gotten worse over the last three years.
Attempting to delay the PIP sunset provision for one more year creates a great opportunity for lawmakers to raise campaign funds, while Florida families pay out another $250 a year for a broken system. Medical professionals and trial lawyers are two of the biggest opponents of reforming the no-fault PIP system; allowing it to sunset would be a great blow to legislators' ability to raise campaign contributions from these two key donor groups.
If the system is broken today, it's only going to be worse a year from now. If legislators insist on playing these political games with our money, we need to tell the governor to return respectability to the process by vetoing their political sidestepping.