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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

State insurance advocate names PIP working group



State insurance consumer advocate Robin Westcott on Thursday announced the members of a working group on personal injury protection insurance. Curbing PIP fraud is a top priority of state lawmakers and CFO Jeff Atwater. Gov. Rick Scott has said he supports making the coverage optional. Legislation intended to reform PIP laws stalled in the last session, and it's likely to be a huge issue in the upcoming session.

"As you know, Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law requires registered owners and drivers to maintain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and it is intended to hold down medical expenses for minor injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash without regard to fault.  It is also intended to curb litigation costs for minor injuries and non-economic damages.  However, in recent years fraud has so permeated Florida’s PIP system and caused the cost of coverage to more than double in many parts of this state.  The initial value of such a system is now lost for many consumers as they struggle to afford this mandatory coverage," Westcott wrote in a news release. "For these reasons, I have assembled a working group to gather ideas and formalize the discussion regarding PIP reform.  Although, there is a limited number of seats at the table, I certainly want to hear from everyone on this important issue.  Therefore, at each meeting there will be time set aside for public comments.  In addition, I encourage everyone to submit their comments and/or recommendations in writing so that they can be considered and made a part of the record. The working group’s goal will be to complete a well-documented report that can be used to formulate good policy direction for this matter.  It is anticipated that the working group’s report will be completed by October 25, 2011."
The first meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the House Office Building. Additional meetings are set for Sept. 26 and Oct. 10. 

Here's who's on the working group:
* Marc Slager, Deputy Chief of Staff, Director of Cabinet Affairs Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
* James Knudson, Esq., Senior Attorney, Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
* Florida House of Representatives (no appointment yet)
* Detective Ron Cooper, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
* Howard Goldblatt, Coalition Against Insurance Fraud
* Brad Ashwell, Director, Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
* Ralph Glatfelter, Florida Hospital Association
* Dr. Richard Thacker, DO, Florida Osteopathic Medical Association
* Paul Watson Lambert, Esq., Florida Chiropractic Association, Inc.
* Jeffery M. Scott, Florida Medical Association
* Steven D. Smith, Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Florida
* S. Grier Wells, Esq., Board of Governors Florida Bar
* Todd Copeland, Esq., Florida Justice Association * Rene Hernandez, Esq., Florida Insurance Council, Inc
* Lynne McChristian, Insurance Information Institute 
* Alex M. Hageli, Esq., Property Casualty Insurers Association of America * Allen McGlynn, Esq., State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Company
* Robert Simmons, Esq., Allstate
* Michael J. Neimand, Esq., United Automobile Insurance Company
* Major Simon Blank, Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud
* R. Terry Butler, Esq., Senior Attorney, Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate
* Monte Stevens, Director, Governmental Affairs, Office of Insurance Regulation

[Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 12:57pm]


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