Florida’s consumers face a robbery in progress with $910 million stolen so far. That’s the premium hit for “staged accidents” made profitable by the state’s “no-fault” automobile personal injury law. We visited this abomination before, asked the legislature to fix it, and watched as the brazen cabal of intentional crash victims, fraudulent treatment clinics and tort attorneys were allowed to perfect bilking innocent consumers, year after year.
“No-fault” insurance fraud can be fixed by a bill (e.g. Florida’s HB 119) that amends current law by stating each behavior that’s unlawful and subjecting it to felony-length prison time, or by a bill (e.g. HB 1007) that repeals “no-fault” law and replaces it with an obligation to carry liability coverage – the norm in states which believe bad drivers should pay heavily for bad driving.
The Florida bills’ “fix no-fault” and “replace no-fault” approaches carefully preserve a sane requirement for immediate emergency treatment coverage (up to $10,000) for victims of an automobile accident.
But “fix no-fault” and “replace no-fault” approaches come down hard on anyone involved in fraud, inappropriate medical treatment, abusive litigation, and slow reimbursement by insurance companies. Besides stern penalties, these laws specify what diagnostic treatments are legitimate, that medical charges and attorney fees must be reasonable, what personal injury treatment advertising is permitted and they put limits on what kind of client solicitation clinic-owning lawyers can do. They also affirm the right of insurers to sue all parties involved in insurance fraud.
It’s regrettable that the legislature needed to craft laws so very complex, but fraud and danger to the public are so rampant that it’s necessary. The soupy mess called “no-fault” may have seemed stylish when passed, but it was clearly a Trojan horse for ripping off the Florida consumer and exposing us to injury or death due to staged accidents. Our kudos to the legislators who haven’t forgotten about protecting the consumer!
Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in Florida. He follows public policy from the consumer’s perspective