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Auto insurance fraud meetings in South Florida and Tallahassee

Julie Patel, Sun-Sentinel

October 10, 2011

The Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies, an insurance group representing several large insurers and others are holding a town hall meeting on personal injury protection insurance fraud Tuesday in Coral Gables.

Among those attending are Robin Westcott, the state's insurance consumer advocate, a couple of elected officials from central and western Florida, representatives of several insurance industry groups, insurance agents and a lobbyist for the Office of Insurance Regulation. Policyholders are invited to attend and share their stories.

Representatives from insurance companies, physician organizations, and the state's trial bar traded barbs at an all-day meeting of the Insurance Consumer Advocate PIP Working Group. Westcott assembled the group this month to examine fraud and abuse in PIP, a no-fault insurance system that pays upward of $10,000 to cover health care costs associated with car wrecks.

On Monday, Westcott is holding the last of three meetings aimed at helping her craft a legislative proposal to address PIP fraud. The first two meetings focused on whether state initiatives already in place, such as alternative dispute resolution and a fee schedule for medical treatments is helping or not. A panel she assembled of insurance company representatives, attorneys and health care professionals also discussed the types of health care clinics that perpetuate fraud and billing or payment processing issues that could be changed to reduce fraud.

The meeting today will, among other things, evaluate the idea of eliminating a law requiring $10,000 in PIP coverage, which pays medical bills for policyholders injured in auto accidents, regardless of which driver is at fault. The state, like many others, could move back to counting on the legal system to resolve claims disputes.

The town hall on Tuesday is at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Miami’s Fieldhouse Multipurpose Room, 1245 Dauer Dr. in Coral Gables.

Westcott's meeting is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be viewed live online.