September 8, 2011
Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott on Thursday announced members of a panel that will examine fraud in Florida’s Personal Injury Protection market and set an Oct. 25 deadline for the group to complete its work.
Westcott has created the workgroup amid a fresh push to look at the state's no-fault auto insurance law which requires motorists to have $10,000 worth of coverage. Past battles over the law have pitted insurers against other insurers as well as against doctors and attorneys. But critics of the current law maintain that it has fostered a network of fraud artists who stage accidents in order to collect insurance payments.
Health care providers will be well represented on the panel with representatives of the Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, the Florida Chiropractic Association and the Florida Medical Association serving on the board. The state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, also will be represented.
Personal injury attorney Todd Copeland will represent the Florida Justice Association and S. Grier Wells, a member of the board of governors of the Florida Bar, also will serve.
Excluding Westcott, the group has 21 named members. Representatives fromState Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, United Automobile Insurance Company and Allstate have been invited to participate as well as representatives from two insurance trade associations -- the Florida Insurance Council and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
Some of the state’s largest PIP writers such as GEICO and Progressive, aren’t included in the list of participants.
There will be someone from the Florida House monitoring the work group’s progress according to the list but no name is provided. James Knudson, the senior attorney with the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, also is one of the panel participants.
In an email announcing the workgroup Westcott acknowledged that there were "limited seats at the table" but said she wants to "hear from everyone on this important issue."
"Therefore, at each meeting there will be time set aside for public comments. In addition, I encourage everyone to submit their comments and/or recommendations in writing so that they can be considered and made a part of the record,'' she wrote.
The first meeting will be Sept. 15 with follow-up meetings scheduled for Sept. 26 and Oct. 10. Documents and agendas will be posted on the website for the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate. There are no legislators serving on the panel.