Insurance fraud goes to the capital

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWSDESK) - Every driver in Florida is required to have at least $10-thousand in personal injury protection, or PIP insurance.

The coverage pays medical bills after a car accident, but the system has been rife with fraud, and many are calling for its repeal.

Under PIP, fraud rings stage accidents like this one. Here's how it works. Two cars, drop off as many as 8 people, one car hit the other, everyone jumps back in and claims they are injured. They all end up at doctor who's in on the fraud, insurance companies then pay up to $10 thousand for each supposedly injured person.

Insurance Consultant Lisa Miller says she's see one first hand.

"And they have a mission and they want to milk as much money out of the system as they can," said Miller.

For the second year in a row, State Senator Jeff Brandes has filed legislation to repeal PIP.

Q: "It was supposed to keep people from suing each other in court?"

Brandes: "Right, and unfortunately, that's not what has really played out. It's rough with fraud, and we think this is the best way to replace it."

Q: "And what replaces it?"

Brandes: "Well, right now were focused on just doing a full repeal. We've set a timeline of 2020 when that repeal will take place. We think that will focus us, the legislature, on coming up with solutions, what the next steps are."

Cost saving could be significant. $80 a car a year. A billion dollars statewide.

One of the biggest obstacles to reforming PIP is that the industry can't agree on what to do next.

Miller says that what happens this year with PIP is a big question.

"There are those who believe that PIP is the only alternative have for those who don't have access to heath insurance. There are those who believe it can be fixed, and there are those who believe it needs to be flushed," Miller explains.

The Brandes plan wouldn't repeal PIP starting in 2020, and between now and then, lawmakers would have to come up with an alternative.

Under the Brandes plan, motorists would still have to carry bodily injury and property damage insurance.