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Florida Reforms Lowering PIP Premiums, OIR Reports.

Byline: Phil Gusman, PropertyCasualty360.com

Florida personal-injury protection (PIP) premiums have dropped an average of 13.2% across the state, according to successive insurer rate filings--mandated by a 2012 law--in October 2012 and on Jan. 1, 2014.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) released the figures based on filings from 20 auto insurers representing over 75% of the state's market. As PIP accounts for about 25% of the total auto-insurance premium cost, the OIR says the 13.2% decrease will result in an overall reduction of 3% to 4% for a policyholder, depending on coverage purchased.

The legislation requiring the rate filings, HB 119, was signed into law in May 2012. It was designed to help address fraud and abuse in the state's no-fault, PIP system by requiring claimants to seek treatment within 14 days of an accident from a hospital or physician and banning treatments from acupuncture and massage facilities. The bill also limits attorneys' fees, establishes stiff penalties for doctors who commit fraud and requires that claimants submit to an examination under oath from insurers.

The OIR notes that the "anticipated cumulative effect of these two rate filings in the legislation was a 25% overall decrease in PIP rates"--where insurers would show a 10% decrease in the October 2012 filing and a 15% decrease in the Jan. 1 filing, or else include a detailed explanation on why those reductions were not met.

While the 13.2% savings falls short of the projected 25%, the OIR says all 20 insurers did account for and recognize savings resulting from HB 119. An OIR spokesperson says those savings may have come in the form of lower increases, and she points out that there are numerous factors that determine why individual insurers might justifiably require either a rate increase or decrease.

"The commissioner is pleased that PIP costs are generally decreasing statewide as a result of HB 119," the spokesperson says, "which means that consumers will see lower costs from PIP insurance. The auto market in Florida continues to be robust and competitive."

The OIR further notes in a statement that the estimated average savings "reflect a positive trend in comparison to 2011, when 86% of auto filings were for proposed increases in PIP premiums -- the vast majority for double digit increases."

Samuel Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Insurance Council, says, "The PIP reforms have begun to work."

Referring to a legal challenge brought by a group of acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors, Miller says, "We need [the reforms] upheld by the Florida Supreme Court and that challenge is moving forward. We need full implementation of the 2012 legislation, which we supported at the time. The huge increases in PIP rates have been halted by the implementation we have managed so far. The outlook is good for further decreases in rates."

According to a chart accompanying the OIR statement, seven insurers met the 25% PIP premium-reduction target: three Geico companies, two Progressive companies, USAA and Security National Insurance Co. Fourteen of the twenty companies filed for PIP-premium decreases, and eight filed for overall auto-premium decreases.
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Publication:Property and Casualty 360
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jan 23, 2014
Words:517
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