Tampa Leads the Florida Fight Against Auto Insurance Fraud

Thursday’s Post 12/8/11 – State Officials consider the move by one Florida County to crack down auto insurance fraud through targeting staged accidents and  medical clinics in order to improve the state’s no-fault auto insurance law.  During public meetings held in Tampa; Government officials and Floridians discussed the state’s growing Personal Injury Protection insurance fraud problem.  Florida Officials say this is what is driving the auto insurance premiums higher by hundreds and in some cases, thousands of dollars.  “This is an area that is costing our citizens millions of dollars, if we don’t do something, it will raise 20 percent per year. Hillsborough County is the center of the PIP fraud debate. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) ranks Florida as the number-on U.S. State for staged auto accidents.  The Sheriff’s Department of Hillsborough has been able to detect staged accidents through upgrading patrols and surveillance and simultaneously asking the help of the public to report any suspicious accidents.

The last 18 months, the department has conducted over 120 arrests of staged auto accidents participants.  The Sheriff of Hillsborough County believes these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg of  incidents taking place in the vicinity even though efforts to investigate auto accidents have been increased. He emphasized that the prosecutions under the current law not very effective.  There is also a problem with illegal Health Clinics.  The increase in medical and pain clinics that primarily treat PIP patients is on the rise. There are 160 of these health clinics in Hillsborough,  74 in Pinellas County, 22 in Pasco County, 20 in Manatee County, and 17 in Polk County.  A new ordinance to target these clinics is helping.  It’s very first of its kind in the state and was enacted by the Hillsborough County Commission.  This ordinance requires clinics to be available for business 3 days a week from 9:00am to 5:00pm in order to accommodate walk-in patients or allow patients to make reservations for services, therapy, and other treatment.  Furthermore, the clinics would be required to have a medical doctor on staff to insure the proper maintenance of the clinic’s operations.  Violators would be fined a $500 and serve up to 60 days in jail.  Doctor’s convicted will be bared from operating another clinic for five years.


Michael E. Dortch
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