Tallahassee, Florida- August 21, 2012
Staged accidents giving way to mammoth medical bills.
Hotshot lawyers racking up tens of thousands of dollars in fees and the list goes on.
It's gotten so long and so expensive, Florida's auto insurance companies have had no choice but to hike rates.
Five months ago, lawmakers stepped in, mandating new limits on payouts under personal injury protection coverage.
The hope, rooting out fraud in PIP would led auto insurance rates to fall as dramatically as they rose.
But a new report commissioned by the state finds, that may be wishful thinking.
If you pay a thousand dollars a year for insurance, it's estimated PIP reform might save you anywhere from 24 to 40 bucks.
Industry expert Bob Lotane doesn't disagree that's not a lot of money, but he says patience is key.
"The law is brand new, and we haven't seen how much fraud it's actually going to root out of the system, so over time, once we have experience, then it could be more or a little bit less," said Lotane.
The new law's intended to lower your total auto premium by ten percent, and if the report is any guide, that's clearly not happening.
Leading critics to repeat what they said five months ago with no built-in mandate that insurers slash rates, the law's a 'bad deal.
"A bad deal for the ratepayers, a bad deal for the injured, a bad deal for those who provide medical services to the injured, to hospitals...but a sweetheart of a deal - a sweetheart of a deal for the insurance companies!" said Republican Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portialla.
But, tell that to the insurance companies, which Lotane points out can only do business in Florida if regulators approve.
That fact may be pressure enough to lower premiums even further.
If they don't do it, they will have some explaining to do to the insurance commissioner.
There have been calls to strengthen the reforms - including adding a rate cut mandate - when lawmakers return to the capitol until after the election.
But, if the debate so far is any indication, that would be a tough fight to win.
The new PIP reform report also says most drivers won't see much of a drop in their auto insurance premiums until 2013, not in October, as lawmakers had intended.
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