THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2012
It looks as though initial assessments of Florida’s new personal injury protection law were correct.
As 145 PIP coverage rate filings swamp the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), per a mandate set by the legislation (HB 119), it appears as though “the savings will result in a mitigation of rate increases rather than actual rate reductions for most companies,” says Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty in a statement.
Nevertheless, the commissioner says the filings “represent a major shift in the trajectory of PIP-insurance rates in Florida.”
A report from the OIR on the no-fault PIP reform legislation, as well as comments from the insurance industry, cautioned against the expectation of immediate savings from the new law.
Michael Carlson, executive director of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, says the true savings from HB 119 could come by way of other provisions in the bill meant to fight rampant fraud and abuse of the state’s PIP system.
The bill contains measures to revise the medical fee schedule, reduce fraud committed by crooked medical providers, reduce costs by adjusting the payment of benefits for non-emergency treatment, and change the way plaintiffs’ lawyers get paid to litigate PIP cases.
These provisions go into effect Jan. 1.
Another aspect of HB 119 required insurers to file new PIP rates by Oct. 1—and many insurers waited until the last minute, says the OIR. If an insurer’s filing does not include a 10-percent rate reduction for PIP coverage, it must explain why.
The OIR says it cannot produce a complete list of all PIP insurers and their rate requests since most insurers made complete auto insurance rate filings and included the PIP portion with other parts, such as bodily injury and uninsured motorist.
The OIR says it has approved eight filings thus far. Of the eight, three have PIP rate changes of at least 10 percent.
Four other PIP providers presumably convince the insurance office they needed higher PIP rates. Agency Insurance Co. got a 26.3 percent increase approved. Florida farm Bureau was give the go-ahead to raise rates 8 percent, and MGA Insurance Co. will increase rates 3.9 percent.
United States Liability Insurance Co. was approved to start a new program for antique autos.
Carlson says the filing activity “demonstrates that chronic fraud and abuse in the PIP system has impacted different companies in different ways.”
He says many insurers have seen PIP claims and losses increase this year. Therefore, after applying the new law, insurers’ filings indicate a mitigation of rate increases rather than rate reductions.
For instance, without HB 119, Agency Insurance Co would have asked for a 61 percent increase in PIP rates. Florida Farm Bureau would have asked for an increase in rates of more than 45 percent.
“This is a small but positive first step forward, given what’s really happening in the marketplace,” Carlson says.
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