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Final PIP report won't be finished in time for Gov. Scott and Cabinet

Christine Jordan Sexton, Florida Tribune

10/31/2011

Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott says won’t have a final report from her Personal Injury Protection workgroup when she addresses the Cabinet on Tuesday, only an executive summary.

Westcott sai Friday afternoon she doesn’t want to rush the report, which will not contain any recommendations but instead will just lay out what experts are witnessing.

“We just want a good product,” Westcott said, “not just a product.”

Personal injury protection insurance -- and whether it's fixed or "flushed" -- is expected to be the No. 1 insurance issue of the 2012 session. Westcott assembled a group of lobbyists, insurance executives and consumer advocates in an attempt to ferret out problems.

Florida requires drivers to have $10,000 of personal injury protection, which compensates persons injured in accidents regardless of fault and property damage insurance. Personal injury protection coverage provides reimbursement for 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses, 60 percent of loss of income and 100 percent of replacement services, for bodily injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident without regard to fault.

The property damage liability coverage must provide a $10,000 minimum benefit. A $5,000 death benefit is also provided.

The PIP working group met four times to discuss PIP fraud, such as staged accidents, and the broader issue of abuse, which has included everything from attorneys fees to utilization of health care services.

Last week an insurance trade group came out with its own set of recommendations that included eliminating attorney fee multipliers, adopting a utilization schedule and dealing with an appeals court decision that says insurers cannot examine under oath medical care providers who are assigned PIP benefits.