Opponents blast Florida auto insurance reform, medical care cuts

Reform legislation in Florida meets consumer backlash as insurance resources such as Automobile.com work with providers to inform public.

Jul 30, 2012, 21:09 ET from Automobile.com

LOS ANGELES, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida car insurance reform measures that went into effect in July are experiencing criticism from some individuals who claim benefits and payouts will be diminished. Under the new legislation signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, services such as acupuncture and massage therapy will no longer be covered. Opponents claim the new legislation favors insurance companies and will adversely affect medical treatment while Governor Scott claims the changes will reduce fraud and lower the cost of living for Florida residents. Online car insurance resources such as Automobile.com have been working with insurers to inform consumers of the changes.

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The car insurance measures were among the approximately 150 new laws that went into effect in Florida last month, according to a report by the Miami Herald. The report highlighted that some of the measures are "constitutionally questionable" and would expand Scott's authority over state rule making. In addition to the reduction of covered therapy, the legislation limits the period of seeking treatment after an accident to 14 days. Florida officials claim fraud such as false claims have contributed to a $1.4 billion increase in personal injury protection (PIP) costs over the last four years, according to the Miami Herald report.

Under the new legislation, the PIP benefit is capped at $2,500 unless an "emergency medical condition" is declared by a qualifying medical care provider or practitioner. Many critics claim the definition of an emergency condition is vague. Physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists fear victims of accidents will not receive adequate treatment after an accident, which could lead to chronic ailments. Supporters of legislation claim the PIP benefit was being misused and the new law will help those with immediate needs after an accident while coverage such as liability should be used to address other injuries and ailments.

Although many of the laws are in effect, the changes to PIP coverage are slated to begin at the beginning of next year. Local insurance agents and online insurance resources aim to help consumers better understand the new laws that are in effect. Automobile.com has worked with several insurance companies to inform affected policyholders of any significant changes. The site allows consumers who are looking to change coverage levels or policies to compare quotes from a variety of insurers. Users are able to customize levels of protection and compare quotes before electing to purchase coverage.

Robert McAllister is an insurance analyst for Automobile.com. For more information, visit http://www.automobile.com. Additionally, consumers can follow @Automobilesite on Twitter or "like" the company on Facebook, RMcAllister@automobile.com.

SOURCE Automobile.com