Since the laws governing personal-injury protection were reformed, the number of car accidents staged in Florida so an insurance claim could be filed has fallen by more than half, according to the statistics. The nonprofit National Insurance Crime Bureau stated they completed a study which reports that PIP claims involving accidents that appear to have been intentionally caused fell from 712 in 2012 to 328 last year. Overall, questionable PIP claims filed in Florida dropped by nearly 8 percent in a year, reported the bureau. Joe Wehrle, the bureau’s president told the Sun-Sentinel that his company was encouraged by the decline in questionable claims but they still had a long way to go to stop the staged claims. According to Mr. Wehrle, Florida remains a hotbed for fraudulent activity. The 2012 law requires those involved in vehicle crashes to seek treatment within 14 days and limits non-emergency medical claims to $2,500. The law also established stronger penalties for medical providers who commit PIP fraud, including a five-year license suspension and a 10-year restriction from PIP reimbursement. Two insurance groups here in Florida thinks the study shows the law is helping cut abuse that they claim drive up premium costs. Two insurance groups said Monday that the study shows the law is helping cut abuse that drives up premium costs. Premiums for PIP coverage are projected to drop by an average of 13.2 percent, based upon on a review of 20 insurers that provide coverage for more than 75 percent of the Florida market, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said in January.
A recent arrest down in South Florida shows how there are still individuals trying to milk the system. According to the Palm Beach Post, Janio Vico and Jharildan Vico were arrested after spending several years defrauding auto insurance companies. The federal indictment sets forth the facts: The men owned a rehabilitation center, would then put a doctor up front, stage a few car accidents and then make at least $1 million in false insurance claims. The Vicos face 12 counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The two men operated V & C Rehabilitation Center out of Lake Worth. The clinic offered chiropractic and massage therapy to those who had injuries from car crashes, authorities say. While there was an unnamed licensed chiropractor at the clinic, the indictment claims the two men were in control of the finances.
The two men, along with other co-conspirators, have submitted fraudulent claims since at least 2009 for medically unnecessary treatments for those who claimed they were injured in staged car accidents, according to investigators. When the men didn’t stage the accidents, they took in patients who were in crashes, and even if they didn’t need treatment, they would convince them to go through with it to get their payout. Once the insurance companies paid up and the money landed in their bank accounts, they would divide it up among the actors and participants, authorities say.