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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Creates Second PIP Squad in Tampa, Part of Ongoing Push to Put the Brakes on this Costly Crime

2/10/2011

Contact: Alexis Lambert  850-413-2842            
                          
TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, who oversees the Department of Financial Services and the department’s sworn Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), has created a second Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Fraud Squad in Tampa to combat the growing number of staged accidents and fraudulent auto insurance claims.  

PIP fraud accounts for more than 40 percent of Florida’s annual insurance fraud referrals and, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Florida has three of the top five cities nationally for questionable claims associated with staged accidents—Tampa, Miami and Orlando.  In 2009, Tampa experienced a 290-percent increase in questionable claims related to staged or caused accidents.

“I am committed to ensuring resources get to the areas in need, establishing stronger coordination between our investigators and other law enforcement agencies and keeping targeted communities informed about how they can help combat this crime,” said CFO Atwater.   “Our citizens should not have to foot the bill to line the pockets of criminals. We must act quickly to stop these losses and help Floridians keep their hard-earned dollars in their pockets.”

During the upcoming legislative session, CFO Atwater is recommending legislative policy solutions involving strengthening billing practices so only appropriate services rendered are covered, creating civil penalties so proceeds can be used to fund additional anti-fraud efforts and tightening requirements for clinic ownership.

PIP is one of two types of insurance coverage Florida drivers are required by law to carry and it typically provides $10,000 per person for medical bills, regardless of who is at fault. A single staged accident can generate tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims.

Tampa’s newest PIP squad will be led by Lt. Darrell Wilson, who will oversee five detectives.   The first squad is led by Lt. Carlos Rosario and also includes five detectives.  PIP squads are also in place in Orlando, Miami, West Palm Beach and Plantation. 

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of Insurance Fraud.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability i