Mending a Broken System
By: Jeff Atwater
Special to The Tampa Tribune
This year the Legislature took on the challenge of
reforming Florida's broken personal injury protection
(PIP) auto insurance system, which
has been infiltrated
by crooks and enterprising industries driving up costs
for all Floridians.
I believe this Legislature,
with the support of Gov.
Rick Scott and many others, passed meaningful PIP
reforms that will positively impact Florida's drivers by
targeting fraud, reducing costs and making our roads
safer for citizens and visitors.
The purpose of this reform was to reduce
skyrocketing auto insurance premiums for Florida
drivers. But change does not happen overnight.
We will not be able to fully analyze the savings these
measures will generate for Florida's consumers until
Our first opportunity to measure the
effectiveness of this legislation will come in July with
the creation of a PIP Fraud Strike Force.
This strike force, along with the Division of
Insurance Fraud, will look for ways to reduce fraud in
the system as well as monitor for new fraud scams
attempting to circumvent anti-fraud provisions.
The strike force will identify tools to assist in
the investigation and prosecution of PIP fraud and seek
funding and donations to fund such initiatives.
In September of this year, the Office of
Insurance Regulation, overseen by Insurance Commissioner
Kevin McCarty, will contract with an independent
consultant to calculate the expected savings from the
have instructed Florida's insurance consumer advocate
(ICA), Robin Westcott,
to play an active role in the
selection of the consultant and
review of the results to ensure all factors are properly
evaluated and consumers are fairly represented in the
In October, automobile insurers must make a rate
filing showing a reduction in rate of at least 10
percent or provide a detailed explanation as to why they
were unable to provide their policyholders with such a
The bulk of the PIP reforms passed this session
go into effect in January 2013. These reforms will allow
consumers to get the care they need following an
accident while ensuring that only legitimate claims are
paid. In short, these new provisions help return PIP to
its original mission — to provide emergency care
following an auto accident for those who may not have
other health care options regardless of who is at fault.
These are the reforms that I believe will get at
the root of the abuses occurring in the current PIP
system and will go a long way in reducing your
automobile insurance rates.
I am eager to start seeing Floridians' auto
insurance rates go down and will continue to be a
watchdog for Florida's insurance consumers.
Jeff Atwater, a Republican, is Florida's chief
financial officer, a statewide elected official and
Cabinet officer. He oversees the Department of Financial